Harris KhatriArt work name: Saint George killing the dragon (Bernado Martorell) November 14, 2013Hum 123-002
Oakton Community College
Any work of art apart from being attractive and beautiful, it has both a superficial and deeper meaning (Erbach, 2008). This submission examines the Bernat (Bernado) Martorell’s painting of Saint George killing a dragon and describes the form, size, technique, color, texture and lines of the painting. It further gives details of the movement, content, theme and interpretation in art. Figure 1(a) and (b) shows the actual painting of St. George killing the dragon.
Figure one (a) Saint George killing the dragon
Figure 1(b): Dragon being killed by Saint George
According to Wood (2003), this piece of painting is found in most art archives and libraries. However, its location is attributed to The Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois. On the other hand, Spenser and Maynard (2000) claim that this Martorell’s painting is part of the art in altars in Chapels especially Spain. However, it also forms part of the altarpieces in other chapels around the world.
Technique and material
Wood (2003) and Nelsen (2004) argued that this piece of art uses tempera, oil paint and panel or canvas. Thus, the technique used was tempera on canvas.
According to Hartfield and Eskridge (2001) the original size of this piece of art was 155.6cm by 98.1 cm, which is about 61.3" x 38.6"(inches). Moreover, it had a portrait orientation (Erbach, 2008).
Theme and model
The event in the painting is Saint George slaying a dragon in order to save the princess and rescue a city that was troubled for a long time by the dragon. Hence according to Hartfield and Eskridge (2001), the theme illustrated is bravery of Saints and the model in the paint is that of Saint George and the dragon.
Wood (2003) indicated that the painting depicts nothern renaissance in the 15th Century. In addition, use of gold paint and gold dust in the oil painting takes the viewers back to the Gothic era when gold dust was widely used (Erbach, 2008). According to Sousa (2005), Saint George was a Spanish cleric of Catalonia while Bernat Martorell was a famous painter in Catalonia in the 15th century who lived between 1400 and 1452. Hartfield & Eskridge (2001) adds that Martorell did this Medieval to modern European painting between the years 1434-1435.
According to Wood (2003), this oil painting uses archival inks, which are known to be fade-resistant. The knight is black-brown in color. It is off the set with a white cover and a red cross. The black-brown knight has an undertone of yellow that has heat in it. Nelsen (2004) argues that the red color in the cross symbolizes destruction. While the white in his cloak is symbolic for purity and chastity. According to Hartfield and Eskridge (2001), the dragon is black-brown with a powerful gold chest and tail as well as a red colored tongue that generates an impression of evil. Additionally, the black-brown, red and gold bring us to the heat of the battle (Hartfield & Eskridge, 2001).
According to Sousa (2005) and Wood (2003), the castle in the hind ground was derived from the soft transition between gray and white colors. The people of the castle are all secondary and tertiary colors. The gold in the painting come into view and almost jumping towards the on looker. Wood (2003) added that the painting highlights the flat panel and areas with bright colors. Moreover, the valley has many shades of color while the mountain, except for the main characters, is one color with highlights and lowlights (Sousa, 2005). Thus, our eyes not only move over the surface of the image but also back into depth.
At the centre of the image are small panels that illustrate gruesome details of the saint.
Making use of an item with an indirect line persuades viewers to perceive a similarity between objects that are essentially quite different (Nelsen, 2004). Erbach (2008) argues that whereas the knight in the image is in perpendicular lines, the dragon and spear contrast its dimension in horizontal lines. In addition, the lance is fundamentally seen as a diagonal line. According to Sousa (2005), the disparity between the lance being vertical line and the knight being horizontal enhances the representation of the knight as a larger and more powerful figure. Hence, the curved and undulating lines illustrate the beginning of the heat of the battle.
Shapes and Symbols
As you glance at this work of art for the first time, your eyes starting focusing on the knight, which is the largest symbol or representation in the painting. On initial viewing of the painting, one’s eyes goes straight to the spear and the dragon (Wood, 2003). According to Hartfield and Eskridge (2001), one senses the decorative pattern and unity that eyes movement across the shapes creates. One also becomes aware of the two primary figures and symbols: the knight and the dragon. Secondary figures include the princess and the people of the castle while the rest of the painting is background (Hartfield & Eskridge, 2001).
Form of the painting
Spenser and Maynard (2000) argue that this oil painting illustrate a worthy determination in painting of Spain. That is, illustration of Saint George slaying the Dragon borrows the Gothic style and mops the overtone of smartness and sensation. Thus, according to Nelsen (2004), the skilled gold tooling plus contour depiction draws back from the Renaissance images into the astuteness and artisanship of medieval period. The convoluted and rapid movement of our eyes can cause us to become aware of thrill of the battle. Furthermore, the intently looking eyes of the horse and the prowling eyes of the dragon are extremely intense (Sousa, 2005).
Hartfield and Eskridge (2001) argue that the painters in the Gothic era melted down gold to make gold dust, which was usually used in paintings instead of yellow or gold paint. The role of the gold paint was a significant element essential for the effect of totality. Wood (2003) also argues that the painting seems to divide into two parts. The mountain where the fight takes place and the valley where the castle is. This is because color variation tends to associate certain hues with certain distances thus emphasizing depth. Furthermore, by contrasting light and dark it may evoke a sensation of depth (Wood, 2003).
According to Sousa (2005) and Erbach (2008), the curved line of the road and several faint lines of the mountainside depict a valley that appears far from the mountainside. However, our first impression of Bernat Martorell’s painting does not stimulate in the viewer a strong feeling of depth. He/she will tend to be more aware of the surface of the painting than the space that might be behind it. Sousa (2005) farther adds that despite the painter dividing the painting in two, the mountainside shows us how depth has been created.
Nelsen (2004) added that there is a cave in the lower right-hand side of the mountain. Thus, the cave has been depicted as the home of the dragon. The feeling for depth in the cave is only slightly aroused. A viewer relates the different areas in terms of their role in a visual pattern (Erbach, 2008).
One’s eyes are invited to explore the world behind the surface of the painting. He/she begins to experience the ample world Martorell has lay. That is, the Madonna-like Princess, the ducks and swans swimming in the moat (Spenser & Maynard, 2000). Other nature feels include the white ram on the mountain standing behind the princess and the lizards near the opening of the cave moving around. Thus, according to Spenser and Maynard (2000), this is kind of picture is fascinating and rewarding to look at again and again
Wood (2003) argues that the painting gives the feeling of clearly a defied space rather than of distance. The clear effect of the spatial experience turns the mountainside into a battlefield. We are led from one object to another the distance that our eyes move into depth is constantly decreasing and the number of denigrating places is reduced as we approach the knight (Wood, 2003). The impression already built up is so strong that we even attribute solidity to form.
As our eye’s centers on the knight and the dragon, our attention is called to the princess. This implies that there is space between them (Hartfield & Eskridge, 2001). Looking at the princess in upward motions the people of the castle. The castle view unlike the Mountain View is full of life. The green grass and trees are full of life too. Their homes have color and this gives a true sense of serenity (Nelsen, 2004).
True to the Gothic age what lies hidden or beneath has different value (Erbach, 2008). Thus, according to Erbach (2008) and Sousa (2005), the absence of space-defining elements does not diminish the sense and weight that we have of the main characters. By making figures become fixed in one’s mind as parts of the larger solid form, they themselves become characterized with solidity and massiveness. Hence, Sousa (2005) argues that it is the scale of the figures that is Gothic. They are depicted in a size relative to their importance.
According to Wood (2003), the castle is tiny compared to the people crammed inside it. Disproportional impressions make you feel that the wind is blowing and the knight is in full charge. The use of vertical lines carefully brings your eyes to strategic figures in the picture. Spenser and Maynard (2000) argue that the repressed angular people, incapable of liberating gesture, lead to a dehumanized state. Furthermore, by representing the effect of light and shape, Martorell not only makes us conscious of the knight and the dragon, but also conveys the meaning of the scene. One is convinced of the strengths of the knight, not by his size alone, but also by one’s awareness of the force with which St. George pushes the lance. Hartfield and Eskridge (2001) add that teeth and tongue of the dragon show how fierce and powerful he is. The sky is colored blue, which creates a cool feeling in someone. The view of the moat as blue-green has a cool feeling and calming effect (Wood, 2003). Red, on the other hand, can give someone the feeling of heat (Hartfield & Eskridge, 2001).
According to Nelsen (2004), the the princess’s gown is done in a soft pink. The flowing of her grown makes her a magnificent figure that is very feminine. Pink trimmed with white and wearing a gold headpiece shows a sense of royalty. The princess image is large in relationship to the castle but subordinate to Saint George who is the dominant figure in the painting. Thus, according to Wood (2003) this representation indicates the triumph of good over evil. The knight represents good and the dragon symbolizes evil. Hartfield & Eskridge (2001) argue that the painting also illustrates that battle between good and evil continues. This is comprehensible from the way the princess is being saved from the atrocious dragon (evil) by St. George (good) while the town people and their King watch from a distance.
This piece has critically analyzed Bernat Martorell’s oil painting of Saint George killing the dragon. This renaissance painting is among other paintings that demonstrate how artistic work can use color, size, lines, technique, shapes and material among other features to advance their message (theme). Thus, Martorell’s painting of St. George slaying the dragon not only portrays killing of the dragon and rescue of both the princess and the city, it also indicates victory over evil in the modern European.
Erbach, M. (2008). The Art of the Picture Book. In The Newbery and Caldecott Awards. Chicago: Association of Library Service to Children.
Hartfield, H. F., & Eskridge, R. W. (2001). Saint George Killing the Dragon. Chicago: Department of Museum Education, Art Institute of Chicago.
Nelsen, C. M. (2004). Devotion and Splendor: Medieval art at the Art Instittute of Chicago. Illinois: The Art Inst. of Chicago.
Sousa, J. (2005). Learning for the fun of it. In J Paul Getty Museaum Symposium. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago.
Spenser, E., & Maynard, R. (2000). Fierce wars and faithful ones: Edmund Spenser's The faerie queen, book I. Mcw: Canon Press.
Wood, J. (2003). The Art Instittute of Chicago: The essential guide. Illinois: Art Instittute of Chicago.