Bernat Martorell was the greatest painter of the first half of the fifteenth century in Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Depicted here is the most frequently represented episode from the popular legend of Saint George, in which the model Christian knight saves a town and rescues a beautiful princess. Conceived in the elegant, decorative International Gothic style, the painting was originally the center of an altarpiece dedicated to Saint George that was apparently made for the chapel of the palace of the Catalan government in Barcelona. This central scene was surrounded by four smaller narrative panels, now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and was probably surmounted by a lost image of Christ on the Cross. Here Saint George, on his white steed, triumphs over the evil dragon. A wealth of precisely observed details intensifies the drama. Dressed in an ermine-lined robe, the princess wears a sumptuous gilt crown atop her wavy red-gold hair. Her parents and their subjects watch the spectacle from the distant town walls. George’s halo and armor and the scaly body of the dragon are richly modeled with raised stucco decoration. Martorell also treated the ground, littered with bones and crawling with lizards, in a lively manner, giving it a gritty texture.
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