(b. 1483, Urbino, d. 1520, Roma)

St George and the Dragon

Oil on wood, 28.5 x 21.5 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The St Michael and St George and the Dragon in the Louvre, and the St George of the National Gallery in Washington are bound together both by their subject - an armed youth fighting a dragon - and by stylistic elements. All three are assigned to the Florentine period and echo those stimuli which Raphael received from the great masters who worked in Florence or whose paintings were visible there. The influence of Leonardo - whose fighting warriors from the Battle of Anghiari (1505) in the Palazzo della Signoria provided an extraordinary example of martial art (the painting deteriorated very rapidly because of shortcomings in Leonardo's experimental technique and so is no longer visible) - predominates in these works. But references to Flemish painting - particularly that of Hieronymus Bosch (the glaring light and humanoid monsters which populate the St Michael are characteristic of Bosch) - suggest the environment of Urbino, where Northern influences were still quite vivid.

These small panels are indicative of a moment in which the painter gathers the stylistic fruits of what he has assimilated so far and, at the same time, poses pictorial problems which will be developed in the future.