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St. George and the Dragon

Medallion
late 15th century to early 16th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is an ivory or bone medallion probably made in the late 15th or early 16th century probably in Germany. The medallion represents St. Geroge and the Dragon in carved open work. Margaret Longhurst previously thought the authenticity of this carving to be very doubtful and it would be probably of comparatively recent date. But although its not a particularly distinguished piece of work, the apparently genuine degree of wear would appear to be in its favour and it might be supposed that it functioned as a guild or devotional badge.
George is a legendary warrior saint and martyr and was one of the most popular saints in the late Middle Ages. His origins lie in Greece and he became popular in the West from the 13th century. He is the patron saint of several European Cities, one of them Venice. He was also made patron of England in 1222. To the early Christians the dragon symbolised the evil. St. George slaying the dragon thus refers to the conversion of a heathen country to Christianity. Later ages interpreted the story following the ancient Greek meaning.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved elephant ivory or bone
Brief Description
Medallion plaque, ivory, St. George and the Dragon, probably Germany, probably late 15th or early 16th century
Physical Description
Pierced ivory medallion representing St. George and the Dragon. The openwork medallion shows the armoured and mounted St George trampling on the dragon and driving the lance into its mouth. The outside of the rim is decorated with an integrally-carved band of raised circles divided by small serrated sections, in imitation of metalwork mounts.
Dimensions
  • Height: 5.4cm
  • Width: 4.9cm
Credit line
Given by M. Beurdeley.
Object history
Given by the dealer and furniture maker Louis-Auguste-Alfred Beurdeley, Paris, in 1866.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This is an ivory or bone medallion probably made in the late 15th or early 16th century probably in Germany. The medallion represents St. Geroge and the Dragon in carved open work. Margaret Longhurst previously thought the authenticity of this carving to be very doubtful and it would be probably of comparatively recent date. But although its not a particularly distinguished piece of work, the apparently genuine degree of wear would appear to be in its favour and it might be supposed that it functioned as a guild or devotional badge.

George is a legendary warrior saint and martyr and was one of the most popular saints in the late Middle Ages. His origins lie in Greece and he became popular in the West from the 13th century. He is the patron saint of several European Cities, one of them Venice. He was also made patron of England in 1222. To the early Christians the dragon symbolised the evil. St. George slaying the dragon thus refers to the conversion of a heathen country to Christianity. Later ages interpreted the story following the ancient Greek meaning.

Bibliographic References
  • Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1866. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 17
  • Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part. II. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, p. 57
  • Maskell, W., A Description of the Ivories Ancient and Medieval in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1872p. 75
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014part I, pp. 466-467
  • Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014, part I, pp. 466-467, cat. no. 162
Collection
Accession Number
233-1866

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record createdAugust 12, 2008
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