NOTKE, Bernt
(b. ca. 1440, Lassahn, d. 1509, Lübeck)

St George and the Dragon

Painted wood, 303 x 228 cm
Storkyrkan, Stockholm

Bernt Notke's St George and the Dragon celebrates Sweden's victory over Christian I, King of Denmark and Norway (r. 1448-81) at the Battle of Brunkeberg in 1471, but it also served briefly as a funerary monument. Sten Sure, governor of Sweden and leader of the revolt against Denmark, credited the intercession of St George for this triumph. Sture and others ordered an over-life-size equestrian sculpture of the saint by Bernt Notke of Lübeck for the Holy Cross altar in Stockholm's main church as victory memorial.

Notke represented St George fighting a ferocious dragon. The ground is littered with human skulls and other remains of its victims. Baby dragons peer out of holes in the earth. Having impaled the beast with his lance, George prepares to strike with his sword. At that instant, his horse rears up in pain as the dragons's claw pieces its stomach. Yet because of his Christian faith, the valiant knight is victorious. He rescues the king's daughter and converts everyone.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.