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“Saint George Killing the Dragon” by Bernat Martorell

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Bernat Martorell, a Catalan painter, painted the elegant photo of “Saint George Killing the Dragon” in 1434. A theme behind the amazing legend of Saint George and the Dragon says that there are few friends who will make extreme sacrifices. Martorell uses different elements of art such as space, lining, and color, and different principles of design, such as movement, to take us through the vivid painting.

The legend is said to start off to take place in a small city in Libya named Silene. He met a hermit who told him that the town was being ravaged by a dragon with a tail that is as long as fifty feet. To satisfy the dragon, the people of Silene would sacrifice two sheep a day. If the sheep failed to please him, they would feed the dragon the children of the town, which was done by lottery. One-day the king’s daughter, Sabra was chose to be sacrificed, so she was taken to the cave where the dragon stayed in the town of Silene. Shortly after Princess Sabra arrived, Saint George came rushing through the village to save her. He stroked his spear at the dragon, but the dragon’s scales were so hard that it broke his weapon into a thousand pieces and Saint George fell from his horse. He pulled out his sword and charged the dragon under his wings where he had no scales and the dragon was slayed. The town of Silene was free from the horrific dragon sabotaging them and their poor children thanks to Saint George.

The elements of art used in the painting are space, lines, and color. These three elements guide the viewer through the painting. Space is used to show depth. The top of the picture is a small castle, which shows that is it distant. The bottom of the picture shows a large dragon, which shows that it is closer than the castle. Lines are one of the main guides of the painting and it appears indirectly. There is one line in the photo and it cuts it diagonally in half. Martorell did not just indirectly incorporate a random line going through the photo, he used Saint George’s spear. The tip of the spear started at the top left of the painting and guided the viewer’s eyes to the bottom right. This line tells us that we should begin to look at the picture at the top and make out way down to the bottom. The color white is the key color of this painting. All the main symbols of the picture are painted in white.

Usually when I think of the color white, I think of something pure, godly, good, high energy- mostly positive and rich things about it. White is also used to guide us through the picture. For example, the people in the castle are wearing white hats, which represents the townspeople who did not care that they were about to sacrifice their princess to the dragon. They are located in the top left corner of the painting. Then our eyes move to Saint George’s white cape and armor. This tells us that he came storming through the village to help save the princess. Then our eyes move down to the white horse, which shows us what Saint George was riding on. Our eyes then move up the Sabra’s white gown, which shows us what was being sacrificed and how significant she was to the village. Next to Sabra is the white animal that is being sacrificed after her. The color white moves us through the legend of Saint George and the dragon.

Movement is the only major principle of design that appears in the painting. The lines, color, and space all fall under movement because they are used to guide us through the painting. It is used to show us what, where and when to look at certain things in the painting to give us a whole understanding on what the picture symbolizes and what story it tells.

The legend of this painting shows that there are very few friends who will make extreme sacrifices. In this case, Saint George and the princess were not even friends and yet he risked his life to save her and slay the dragon once and for all. All of the townspeople knew the princess and the king and they refused to even help save her. They all hid in a castle and just watched. This shows that even the people we know and help will make sacrifices for us.

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