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Overview

Freestanding and worked entirely in the round, this statuette is a masterpiece from the thriving carved-alabaster industry in medieval England. Due to its fragility and to attacks during later iconoclasm, much of this type of English sculpture was eventually destroyed. This sculpted group may owe its survival to having been exported to a convent in Spain, where a great demand existed for such alabaster. The patron saint of England is shown battling the dragon, who claws and bites at the lance plunged into its belly. The kneeling princess holds the dragon by her long belt, as if on a leash. Extensive polychromy and gilding add detail and texture to the smooth stone.

Provenance

Church of the Dominican convent of San Juan, Quejana (province of Alava, Spain), before c. 1730; tomb chapel of the Ayala family (tower chapel of La Virgen del Cabello), convent of San Juan, Quejana, c. 1730-after 1880.[1] Benoit Oppenheim [1842-1931], Berlin, before 1911-1920 or after;[2] Lionel Harris [d. 1943], Spanish Art Gallery, London, in or before 1925.[3] (Goldschmidt Galleries, New York);[4] sold 1925 to Otto H. Kahn [1867-1934], New York;[5] Mrs. Otto H. Kahn [d. 1949], New York;[6] Mogmar Art Foundation, New York, by 1940;[7] (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris), by 1942;[8] purchased 1944 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[9] gift 1953 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1940
Arts of the Middle Ages 1000-1400: a Loan Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1940, no. 192, pl. LVIII, as Franco-Spanish, c. 1400.
1945
On loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1945-1953.
1946
Recent Additions to the Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1946, no. A-151.
2003
Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003-2004, no. 84, repro.
Bibliography
1880
Becerro de Bengoa, Ricardo. "Descripciones de Alava." c. 1880, Partially published as "Panteon del Canciller Con Pero López de Ayala en Quenjana (Alava)," BSEE 24 (1916): 166; also in Revista Ateneo (Victoria), (1918): 7.
1911
Oppenheim, Benoit. Originalwerke in Holz, Stein, Elfenbein usw. aus der Sammlung Benoit Oppenheim, Berlin. Supplementary vol. Leipzig, 1911: no. 136, pl. 79.
1920
Lüthgen, Eugen. Die Abendländische Kunst des 15. Jahrhunderts. Bonn, 1920: 51-52.
1925
"St. George and the Dragon, English School." Photo caption in Art News 24 (December 1925): 8, repro.
1926
Nelson, Philip. "Some Undescribed English Alabaster Carvings." Archeological Journal 83 (1926): 44-45, pl. IX, c. 1370.
1930
Hildburgh, W. L. "Further Notes on English Alabaster Carvings." The Antiquaries Journal 10 (1930): 37 n. 8.
1931
Tavendar, Augusta S. "An English St. George in America." Parnassus 3 (October 1931): 28-29.
1934
Frankfurter, Alfred M. "A Tribute to Otto M. Kahn as Art Collector." Art News 32 (April 1934): 10.
1940
Swarzenski, Georg. "The Arts of the Middle Ages." Art News 38 (February 1940): color repro., cover.
1943
Douglas, R. Langton. Review of Charles Rufus Morey, Medieval Art. In Art in America 31 (October 1943): 204.
1944
Hildburgh, W. L. "Some Presumably Datable Fragments of an English Alabaster Retable and Some Assembled Notes on English Alabaster Carvings in Spain." The Antiquaries Journal 24 (1944): 37.
1945
Paintings and Sculpture from the Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1945 (reprinted 1947, 1949): 174, repro., as English 15th Century.
1946
Douglas, Robert Langton. "Recent Additions to the Kress Collection." The Burlington Magazine 88 (1946): 85.
1946
Frankfurter, Alfred M. Supplement to the Kress Collection in the National Gallery. New York, 1946: 9, repro.
1946
"Princely Gifts to the Washington Gallery: Sculpture from the Kress Collection." Illustrated London News 9 February 1946: 161, repro., as Nottingham, early fifteenth century.
1948
Swarzenski, Hanns. "Washington: Neuerwerbungen der Skulpturen Abteilung der National Gallery of Art." Phoebus 2 (1948): 39.
1949
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 11, 172, note 5, repro. 34-36.
1949
Tavendar, Augusta S. "Three Medieval English Alabasters in French Churches." Speculum 24 (1949): 397-406, pl. III.
1955
Stone, Lawrence. Sculpture in Britain; the Middle Ages. Baltimore and Harmondsworth, 1955: 191, pl. 148A.
1955
Tavendar, Augusta S. "Medieval English Alabasters in American Museums." Speculum 30 (1955): 65.
1959
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 383, repro., as English School, early XV Century.
1962
Gettens, Rutherford J. "Minerals in Art and Archeology." Smithsonian Report 1961 Washington, 1962: 553, pl. 1, fig. 2.
1964
Pitman, Clement F. "Speculations on Fourteenth-Century English Alabaster Work." The Connoisseur 155 (February 1964): 89.
1965
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 154.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 136, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 619, 621, fig. 949.
1976
Middeldorf, Ulrich. Sculptures from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools XIV-XIX Century. London, 1976: 118-119, fig. 200.
1976
Pope-Hennessy, John. "A Quota of Masterpieces." Apollo 104 (1976): 72.
1978
King, Marian. Adventures in Art: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1978: 27, pl. 7.
1979
Sutton, Denys. "Robert Langton Douglas. Part IV." Apollo 110 (July 1979): 51 [243], 52 [244] fig. 16.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 621, no. 956, repro., as English 14th Century.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 281, repro.
1994
Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994: 80, repro.
1999
Franco Mata, Angela. El retablo Gótico de Cartagena y los alabastros ingleses en España. Cajamurcia, 1999: 77, 108 fig. 120, 124, 133 n. 159.
2003
Fenton, James. "The Last English Style." The New York Review of Books 50, no. 20 (December 18, 2003): 83.
2007
Exposición Canciller Ayala. Exh. cat. Catedral Nueva Maria Immaculada. Vitoria-Gastieiz, 2007: 96-98, 120, repros. 96 and 119 (detail).
2015
Capwell, Tobias. Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450. London, 2015: fig. 1.8.
2016
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 39, repro.