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8-08-2015, 14:24

St. George and the Dragon

The fifteenth-century Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden created just such a castle, rising above a prosperous fortified port city and surrounding countryside, as a background for his painting of St. George and the Dragon (see Figure 1). In the painting the warrior saint, in glistening armor and impossibly long elegant sleeves, drives his lance through the neck of a hapless dragon and so saves yet another princess. The princess kneels in the grass, careful not to muss her carefully arranged brocade gown. She modestly casts her eyes downward, confident in her champion’s victory, while in the background, the residents of the prosperous port city go about their business, unaware of the drama taking place outside their city walls. Travelers approach the city gates, and an innkeeper hangs out a welcome sign. Round towers reinforce the city walls, and on the heights of a strange, dream-like mountain, a castle’s towers and walls, spires and roofs soar upward. For all his meticulous realism in depicting the details of city buildings and surrounding countryside, Rogier has created a castle as fantastic as the dragon. Although the castle’s crenellated walls and towers recall the military architecture of earlier centuries, the luxury of the residence now captures the artist’s imagination.