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Topic: Saints

Date: 1506

Museum: National Gallery of Art (Washington, United States)

St. George and the Dragon is a small cabinet painting by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael, painted between 1504 and 1506, and now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The saint wears the blue garter of the English Order of the Garter, reflecting the award of this decoration in 1504 to Raphael's patron Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, by King Henry VII of England. The first word of the order's motto, "HONI" can be made out. The painting was presumably commissioned by the Duke, either to present to the English emissary who brought the regalia to Urbino, Sir Gilbert Talbot, or to Henry himself—recent scholarship suggests the latter. The honour paid to a minor Italian ruler reflected Henry's appreciation of the cultural prestige of Renaissance Italy as much as any diplomatic purpose.The traditional subject, Saint George and the Dragon, combining chivalry and Christianity, is appropriate for the occasion; like his father, Guidobaldo was a condottiero, or proprietor of a band of mercenary soldiers. In the early stages of his career Raphael painted a number of tiny cabinet paintings, including another St George in the Louvre, and the Vision of a Knight in the National Gallery in London.

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