Saint George

Image credit: The Bowes Museum

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To the early Christians a dragon symbolised evil. The conversion of a heathen country to Christianity by a saint would thus be depicted in symbolic form, as slaying a dragon with a spear. Saint George was shown in this manner to signify the conversion of Cappadocia (now part of Turkey) to Christianity. A maiden often personified Cappadocia. The story was later adapted and Saint George was said to have fought a dragon, outside the walls of a city, in order to rescue the king’s daughter who had been offered to the dragon as a sacrifice. In the background of this work we can see Saint George on a white horse (symbolising purity) slaying the dragon whilst the princess stands to one side, her arms raised, signifying her joy at being rescued. During the sixteenth-century Northern Italy was in a perpetual state of war.

The Bowes Museum

Barnard Castle


Saint George


17th C


oil on canvas


H 134.3 x W 98 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bequeathed by the Founders, 1885

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Bowes Museum

Barnard Castle, County Durham DL12 8NP England

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