Saint George saves the princess from the dragon

“The fresco tells about the struggle between Good and Evil. It is an elegant example of Emilian Gothic style”

  • detached fresco
  • 14th century
  • Emilian school, attributed to Bartolomeo and Jacopino from Reggio

 

The fresco of Saint George and the dragon was originally located in the chapel of Saint George, and later in the Cathedral. It is now on display in the Museum of the Duomo.

The chapel is now deconsecrated and used for cultural events. However, it was first built as a place of prayer and hospitality for the viatores, the pilgrims who travelled the Via Francigena, which starts in Canterbury and goes all the way to Rome.

The work is inspired to the legend of Saint George and the dragon, as it is  narrated  by  Jacopo da Varazze in the Legenda Aurea, a collection of stories about saints, real or legendary: “A strong and brave knight named George, who was in love with the princess Silene, learned that his beloved had been sentenced to be devoured by a evil dragon. Guided and protected by God’s grace, he decided to go and save her. He killed the dragon and liberated the princess. Ever since that day his glorious deed became known in the entire kingdom, which converted to Christianity”.

A woman in the background observes the scene from the walls of the city.

The theme of the fight between Saint George and the dragon has become the sign of the eternal struggle between Good and Devil, in other words between Christianity and Paganism. The painting, in Gothic style of the Emilian school, is supposed to have been commissioned by Bernabò Visconti, Lord of Milan from 1354 to 1385; indeed, the area around Fidenza was under Visconti rule.

IN-DEPTH BOX

Via Francigena: This pilgrimage route consisted of a collection of roads starting from Canterbury and going all the way to Rome. From there the Via goes on to the Apulia region (also a pilgrimage destination). The via Francigena is still used by pilgrims to reach holy places.

 

Bernabò Visconti: Bernabò was born in Milan, the son of Stefano Visconti and Valentina Doria. He was Lord of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Soncino, Lonato and Valcamonica, and co-Lord of Milan with his brothers Matteo II and Galeazzo II.