This 17th-century etching by French engraver Dominique Barrière (1610/20-1678) is after a painting by Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) and depicts St. George Slaying The Dragon. It’s also known as ‘Bellerophon Vanquishing the Chimera’.
The legend of St George and the dragon is well-worn into the psyche, but the details are often missed in favour of the violent climax. So as a recap, here’s the story. St George discovered a village whereby a rather anti-social dragon was terrorising the local population. Overwhelmed by the terrific beast, the villagers attempted to appease it by feeding it unlucky sheep - at a rate of one per day, hoping that by satisfying its hunger, it would also quell its temper.
However, the fields were soon worryingly bereft of livestock and predictably the dragon was still just as ravenous. So, in an act of desperation, the King ordered that children should be sacrificed instead based upon a grim lottery. Which was all well and good until his own daughter’s number was called from the mediaeval tombola. At which point, St George stepped in and took arms against the fire-breathing behemoth.
Now, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, take note of St George’s discovery and seek out the vulnerable areas of skin towards the armpit - as this is how he brought the beast down. With a swift blow from a sharp sword.
Upon slaying the dragon, the villagers initiated a great feast, presumably without lamb or mutton.
Claude Lorrain produced the original painting in around 1643.
Held in a contemporary frame and glazed.
Medium: Etching on laid paper
Overall size: 15” x 13½” / 38cm x 35cm
Year of creation: 1668
Condition: Darkened. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £2,616
Dominique Barrière’s works are held in numerous public collections including at the British Museum, Met Museum and Royal Academy.
Learn more about Dominique Barrière in our directory.