Salvador Dalí

St George and dragon

1947
etching on paper
Inventory number 59
Saint George is thought to have been born into a noble Christian family in the late third century in what is now modern-day Turkey. As a soldier and officer in the Roman army, he refused to denounce his faith and persecute fellow Christians leading to his martyrdom in 303 AD. 

The myth of Saint George slaying the dragon originated in stories of his valiance and bravery brought back by the Crusaders who learned of him during the Middle Ages.

Legend has it that George arrived upon a village where a dragon was terrorizing the local people. To appease the creature, they had begun to sacrifice a sheep per day to feed its hunger until they no longer had any sheep. The King then decreed that they must sacrifice the local children to keep the dragon at bay. Each day, the sacrifice was chosen by lottery until the King’s daughter was selected. As she was being led to the dragon, George happened by. Horrified by what he discovered, he offered to slay the dragon.
During his battle with the dragon, George noticed a vulnerable patch of skin under its arm and charged forward with his sword, slaying the beast. The villagers held a huge feast in his honour and the feast day of Saint George is celebrated each year in tribute to his bravery. King Edward III made Saint George the country’s official saint shortly after ascending to the throne in 1327.

Alongside England, Saint George is also the patron saint of Georgia, Malta, Portugal, Catalonia and Aragon in Spain and Romania among others. He is also the patron saint of scouts as well as representing farmers, shepherds and armorers.