- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul
- Saint George Battles the Dragon
- 309 cm x 257 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection (Royal Palace of El Pardo, Madrid, “sala donde se abre para su majestad”, 1701, n. 34?; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “antecámara del infante don Luis”, 1772, n. 915; New Royal Palace, Madrid, “antecámara de las señoras infantas-pieza encarnada a la derecha”, 1794, s.n.; Royal Palace, Madrid, “dormitorio de príncipes-pieza primera”, 1814-1818, n. 915)
According to Jacopo de la Voragine's Golden Legend, Saint George slew the dragon that was terrorizing the people of Silene, saving a princess in peril.
In this painting, the Christian hero rides a lively white stallion and brandishes his sword against the monster, which attempts to free itself of the lance stuck in its jaws. Behind them, next to a lamb, the princess looks on.
This work was made in Ruben's youth, during his trip to Italy and is a perfect example of the monumentality of his paintings from that period, with strong, forceful figures. Also characteristic of his work from that time are the use of directed light and very dynamic compositions, as can be seen here in the strong diagonal placement of the horse, which practically divides the canvas into two parts.
Although this piece may have been commissioned for the Church of San Ambrogio in Genoa, it remained in the artist's possession until his death in 1640, when it was acquired for Felipe IV at his auction.