DONATELLO
(b. ca. 1386, Firenze, d. 1466, Firenze)

St George and the Dragon

c. 1416
Marble, 39 x 120 cm
Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence

"And to be sure no modern statues have the vivacity and spirit produced by nature and art, through the hand of Donatello, in this marble. On the base of the shrine he carved a low relief in marble of St George killing the dragon, with a horse that is very highly praised and regarded; and in the frontal he made a half-length figure of God the Father, again in low relief. " (Vasari).

The base of the niche in which Donatello's St George was placed, with the bas-relief representing the saint's combat with the dragon for the freeing of the Princess of Cappadocia, also assumes a role of great importance due to the artist's use of the technique known as rilievo stiacciato, or flattened relief. It is the first example of a long series of scenes in which the artist applied techniques characteristic of medal-making, painting and drawing, to relief in marble. The shallowness of the cutting enabled Donatello to place figures in movement against a landscape, in which careful attention to linear perspective created an illusion of space. Once more Donatello was experimenting with new forms of artistic expression unknown to either the classical or Gothic worlds.