"St. George and the Dragon" 18th Century Russian Icon
Egg tempera on wood panel
14 x 15 1/2 inches
The Great Martyr George, (VELIKOMUCHENIK GEORGIY), also known as Georgly pobyedonosets (George the Victorious") ia a mounted soldier who strikes with his lance at a dragon beneath his horse. The type is very old, and can be traced to Late period hieroglyphs of Roman Egypt, where the mounted warrior in Roman armor is the God Horus, and the dragon a crocodile are considered to have been the inspiration for the icons depicting St. George and the dragon.
Saint George is a patron saint of Georgia, and it is claimed by Georgian author Enriko Gabisashvili that Saint George is most venerated in that nation. An 18th century Georgian geographer and historian Vakhushti Bagrationi wrote that there are 365 Orthodox churches in Georgia named after Saint George, according to the number of days in one year.There are indeed many churches in Georgia named after the Saint; Alaverdi Monastery is one of the largest.
Devotions to the saint in Georgia date back to the fourth century. The name is reputed to be an anglicisation of Gurj, derived from the Persian word for the frightening and heroic people in that territory, and hence assumed by early medieval chroniclers to translate as George, due to the existing patronage.
In the Russian type an angel descends from heaven and places a crown of victory on George's head. On the right is a stylized city with a king in the province of Libya, where a ravaging dragon demanded daily sacrifice. Fate chose the king's daughter, but George subduded the beast and told the princess, whose name was Elisaba, to fasten her sash about the neck of the dragon so that it might be led through the town for conversion before it was finally killed.
St. George appeared as a vision in the battle for Antioch in the First Crusade, leading to it's victorious capture in turn which led to the capture of Jerusalem. St. George is the patron saint of The Crusades, England, Portugal and many other cities, countries, flags and coats of arms.
George is a smooth- faced young man. his lance, surmounted by a cross, pierces the dragon at the mouth.