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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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St George is one of the earliest paintings by Raphael It was completed in 1504 and is currently housed in the Louvre in Paris.

The painting is paired with a small St. Michael's picture which is also stored in Paris. The two pictures were completed in different years but were designed as a pair. A different version of the St. George picture is housed in Washington, D.C. in the National Art Gallery.

It is possible that the painting was commissioned by the Duke of Urbino. At the time, the sovereign state of Urbino was experiencing stability and peace after a long period of disorder, and this picture would have been a good symbol of the then state of affairs. The painting tells an old tale of a Christian hero who saved the daughter of a pagan king by slaying a dragon. The St George and St Michael paintings are usually considered a pair because they are of the same size and have the same iconography. The St Michael’s painting was completed earlier, and it depicts the Archangel Michael in combat with demons. It was also painted for the Duke of Urbino and was possibly meant to show appreciation to Louis XII of France.

Raphael completed this painting during his stay at Florence in northern Italy. It is possible that he only went to the city to secure painting materials, but he was considerably influenced by the art style of Florence. He was particularly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci who had returned to the city in 1500. Raphael started painting more dynamic and less tranquil pictures because of this influence. The St. George’s painting demonstrates this development in his art. The picture is martial in nature and it shows the saint slaying a dragon. Florentia artists were obsessed with paintings of nude men fighting, and this picture went close to their style.

The picture was painted using the oil on panel technique. Oil painting had grown in popularity around Europe during the Renaissance period. The method was first used in Asia, but it spread to Europe and other parts of the world as more people learned of its benefits. One of the biggest advantages of oil is the fact that it dries slowly. This gives the painter more time to make adjustments to the picture. It also allowed artists to make translucent effects to their pictures since oil can be applied as a glaze. This technique allowed Raphael to use many colours, and that allowed him to depict realistic figures such as St. George and the dragon. Oil painting did not become the standard painting technique in Europe until the second half of the 16th century, but almost all of Raphael’s pictures used this method.

St George is one of Raphael’s oldest pictures. It was made for the Duke of Urbino, and it was meant to be paired with the small St. Michael picture. These two paintings are currently housed in the Louvre in Paris, France. A variation of the St. George’s picture is housed in the National Art Gallery in Washington DC.