Raphael was born in Urbino, a central Italian duchy noted for its elegant gentility and Renaissance scholarship. He moved to Florence toward the end of 1504.
Saint George and the Dragon, one of two versions of the theme by the artist, belonged to a series of miniature panels that Raphael painted in Florence for the celebrated court of Urbino. A Roman soldier of Christian faith, Saint George saved the daughter of a pagan king by subduing a dragon with his lance; the princess then led the dragon to the city, where the saint killed it with his sword, prompting the king and his subjects to convert to Christianity.
One unusual feature of the painting is the saint's blue garter on his armor–covered leg. Its inscription, HONI, begins the phrase Honi soit qui mal y pense (Disgraced be he who thinks ill of it), the motto of the chivalric Order of the Garter, of which George is the patron saint. Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro of Urbino was made a knight of the prestigious order in 1504 by King Henry VII of England. Scholarship has shown that the panel was made for the king's emissary, Gilbert Talbot, and not as a gift directly for the king, as was previously thought.
across center on breast strap of horse: RAPHELLO / .V. (Raphael of Urbino); on garter: HONI (beginning of themotto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qu *
William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke [1580-1630], Wilton House, Wiltshire, by 1627; possibly his brother, Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke [1584-1649/1650], Wilton House; given either by the 3rd Earl or the 4th Earl between 1628 and 1639 to Charles I, King of England [1600-1649]; (Charles I [Commonwealth] sale, Somerset House, London, 19 December 1651); purchased by Edward Bass. Charles d'Escoubleau, Marquis de Sourdis [d. 1666], possibly acquired from Bass. Laurent Le Tessier de Montarsy, by 1729; Pierre Crozat [1665-1740], Paris, by 1729; by inheritance to his nephews, first to Louis-François Crozat, marquis du Châtel [1691-1750], Paris, and then [on Louis-François' death without a male heir] to Louis-Antoine Crozat, baron de Thiers [1700-1770]; the latter's heirs; purchased 1772, through Denis Diderot [1713-1784] as an intermediary, by Catherine II, empress of Russia [1729-1796], for the Imperial Hermitage Gallery, Saint Petersburg; purchased March 1931 through (Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London; and M. Knoedler & Co., New York) by Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 30 March 1932 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.
Associated NamesBass, Edward
Catherine II of Russia
Charles I, King of England
Colnaghi & Co., Ltd., P. & D.
Crozat the Younger, Pierre
Crozat, baron de Thiers, Louis-Antoine
Crozat, marquis du Châtel, Louis-François
Escoubleau, Marquis de Sourdis, Charles d'
Knoedler & Company, M.
Le Tessier de Montarsy, Laurent
Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, The A.W.
Mellon, Andrew W.
Pembroke, Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of
Pembroke, Willaim Herbert, 3rd Earl of
State Hermitage Museum
The Matthiesen Gallery
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