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Relief - St George and the Dragon

St George and the Dragon

  • Object:

    Relief

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (Cologne or France (Paris), made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory and silver-gilt details

  • Museum number:

    A.574-1910

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This statuette was executed in the 19th century as an imitation of a 15th century work.
The production of ivories in historicizing styles in the 19th century flourished in a number of centres, including Cologne, Milan, Toulouse and Cordoba. Although not always made to deceive, unscrupulous dealers often sold them as genuine objects to their clients. There are a number of ivories in the collection that were made in an earlier style, when in fact they were produced in the nineteenth, or even the early twentieth century. It is not always known when such objects were manufactured as deliberate fakes, intended to deceive, and when they were instead fantasy pieces, historicizing sculptures, simply made in an earlier manner.

George is a legendary warrior saint and martyr. 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.

Physical description

In a landscape with a castle from which the King and Queen look down. Below the castle kneels the Princess Sabra (or Cleodolinda). A little lower is her lamb. In the foreground the Saint in armour riding a steed which rears above the cowering dragon. Carved in high relief with the principal figures of the mounted Saint George and the dragon almost carved in the round. The horse rears up above the cowering dragon, which curves its tail around that of the horse, as the saint drives a long lance into the beast's mouth with his raised right hand. The horse trappings and reins and the saint's spurs are made in silver-gilt. Behind is a steep rocky landscape with, at the top, a castle from which the tiny heads of the king and queen look down; below kneels the princess with her accompanying lamb, the latter made separately in silver-gilt and fixed top the underside. The back is entirely flat.

Place of Origin

Germany (Cologne or France (Paris), made)

Date

ca. 1850 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Ivory and silver-gilt details

Dimensions

Height: 14 cm, Width: 6.3 cm at base

Object history note

Formerly in the Hollingworth Magniac Collection, Colworth, Bedfordshire, by 1862; sold at the Magniac sale, 1892, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 5 July 1892, lot 260; £45 3s); then George Salting collection, London. Bequeathed to the V&A by Salting in 1910 (no. 1532).

Descriptive line

Relief, ivory and silver-gilt, St George and Dragon, probably French (Paris) or German (Cologne), ca. 1850, made in the style of 15th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. Part II. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1929, p. 56
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 96
p. 333
Theuerkauff, C. Die Bildwerke in Elfenbein des 16. – 19. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1986
part 1, p. 108-109
Williamson, Paul and Davies, Glyn, Medieval Ivory Carvings, 1200-1550, (in 2 parts), V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2014

Production Note

executed in the 19th century as an imitation of a 15th century work

Materials

Elephant ivory; Silver; Gold

Techniques

Gilding

Subjects depicted

Queen; Lamb; Dragon; Horse; Landscape; Castle; King

Categories

Christianity; Sculpture; Myths & Legends; Reliefs

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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