Thursday, January 31, 2013

Closely Looking at Raphael's "St. George and the Dragon" + Super Bowl Heavenly Turkey Chili

A Close Look at Raphael's painting
"St. George and the Dragon"

In this, our third close inspection of an artwork in a row, we have selected a very small painting by the great master of the 
Renaissance, Raphael. It is arguably his best and most interesting piece!

St. George was an English knight, who went on the crusades to the "Holy Land." As the legend states, he rescued a princess by killing the evil dragon who had captured her. Being grateful for her knight on a white horse and in shining armor, her village and kingdom all converted to Christianity.

This small "jewel" of a painting is only 8" x 11" about the size of a standard sheet of printer paper and hangs in Washington D.C. at the National Gallery of Art. It was painted over 500 years ago, in 1506, by the Italian artist Raphael. 

Saint George is the patron saint of England and also of that country's "Order of the Garter." This "Order" is important to Raphael's painting, because in May of 1504, England's King Henry VIII made the Italian Duke Guidobaldo a knight in the English "Order of the Garter." It is believed this small painting was commissioned by Duke Guidobaldo as a gift to Sir. Gilbert Talbot, the English knight who traveled to Urbino, Italy bringing the insignia and elaborate robes of the "Order" to properly install the Duke. The "Order" all wear their garter, which is embroidered with their motto: "Honi soit qui mal y pense." translated into English as "Evil to him who evil thinks."

Insignia for the English Knights in the "Order of the Garter."

Raphael was born, studied and worked in Urbino, Italy before moving to Florence (the center for art and creativity at the time). Raphael was only 23 years old when he painted "St. George and the Dragon", perfectly in his own distinct and classical signature style. 

Raphael's imagery was influenced by other artists: daVinci's fighting horses; daVinci's dragon imagery; Memling's trees; and by Donatello's famous sculpture of St. George. 
Donatello's St. George
ca. 1416
Leonardo da Vinci's Dragon drawing
A da Vinci horse sketch
Let us now look closely at some of the details of "Saint George and the Dragon" by Raphael.
Look at how Raphael composed this painting.
There is a strong X composition in the form of two diagonals. 1) From the upper left to lower right - the large boulders, the horse, the dragon's body and the horse's legs all form one diagonal. 2) From the upper right to the lower left, the tree line, the cape, the horse's head, the lance, St. George's leg, the dragon's head and the shadow of the small stone form the second crossing diagonal. The many tree trunks form contrasting verticals and the land creates strong horizontal lines. X l --- shapes making the composition pleasant and stable.

Raphael's Princess or "damsel in distress".
Also notice the beauty of the spiraling hair from the horse's tail 
which reinforces the soft feminine features of the Princess..

Mortally wounded, the dragon is masterfully drawn and scary, with the dark body contrasting with St. George's white horse.

Except for all leaves and some highlights, this oil painting has no discernible brush strokes. It was painted in thin glazes, building up the color density of each subject a little at a time and creating a glow to the painting as the light bounces back to the eye through the many layers of varnish.
The flora in Raphael's paintings usually have representative meanings, but these plants, in the center foreground of this painting, have no known significance.
An Italian fortress, possibly Urbino, Italy, in the distance.

We see that George's face seems to have been copied from Donatello's statue and looks quite frozen, with little or no life. The white horse, on the other hand, is animated and seems to be the focus of this painting. With all that is going on the horse is making eye contact with the viewer (and with a very pleasant or even "happy" face). This while it helps George fulfill his destiny and its hooves come down on the dragon.

Raphael painted the official embroidered
garter for the "Order of the Garter" 
on St. George's leg.

A larger view of the garter worn by the English Knights in the "Order of the Garter".
The golden glow of the trees in the upper right of the painting - Raphael learned how to paint trees like this, from observing the art by Hans Memling. A diptych by Memling hung in Urbino during Raphael's time there.

For centuries Raphael has been recognized as the supreme High Renaissance painter, more versatile than Michelangelo and more prolific than his older contemporary Leonardo. Although Raphael died at 37, his style of classicism was considered the goal of academic European painting until the mid-19th century. 

In this painting, with so much drama, Raphael shows his youth, love for painting and pleasure with the subject matter. Most of his paintings, during the rest of his career were commissions of biblical scenes - most memorable are his many Madonna and Child paintings and a few other works which refer to Greek Mythology. "St. George and the Dragon" is playful, dealing with the legend of a youthful male risking his life to save a beautiful young woman and her kingdom from a "dragon". Keep in mind this story is allegory which originated during the middle ages, a time of belief in elaborations of the truth, impossible to disprove. It would make a good plot for a motion picture today, now in 3-D of course.

(Text reference sources: "Master Paintings from the Collection of the National Gallery of Art";  Wikipedia. All photos were taken at the National Gallery of Art with permission, from the original painting of "St. George and the Dragon".)

It's Superbowl Week!
For game time, getting pizza delivery can be boring, so you should really try this chili !!!! It's great and will convince Beef lovers how great Turkey can be!

Super Bowl 
"Heavenly Turkey Chili"
(less than an hour in preparation and cook time)

1 Package of natural flavor, lean Ground Turkey (1.25 lbs)
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 Stalks of Celery, diced
5 Thick Cut strips of Bacon, (render out the drippings, dice the solids)
1 Can of Hot Chili Beans in sauce (15 oz, drained - reserve liquid)
2 Cans of Diced Tomatoes (14.5 oz each, drained - reserve liquid)
1  Rounded tsp of Steak Seasoning. any brand (ground steak seasonings usually include: peppercorns, dried garlic, sea salt, dried onion, seeds from coriander, dill & caraway)
1 Rounded tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
10 shakes of Original Tobasco Hot Sauce
1/2 cup of Organic Tomato Catsup
1/4 tsp of Liquid Smoke
1/4 tsp Salt & 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

In a large high walled skillet, cook the bacon to render out most of the fat, drain and reserve the solids, dice when cool. 

Place the ground turkey in the rendered bacon drippings, add the steak seasoning. Cook on top of the stove, chopping and stirring the meat until it has separated into small kernels - just until the last of the pink disappears. Pour cooked turkey into a bowl for later.

Pour in a little olive oil into the pan and saute the diced onions, pepper and celery stirring occasionally until they start to brown. 

Then add the drained tomatoes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, this will sweeten the tomatoes. 

Add the cooked turkey back into the mixture, plus add the beans and the (diced) bacon solids, Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Ground Cumin, Paprika, Ground Cinnamon, liquid smoke and 10 shakes of Tobasco Hot Sauce and mix completely. 

After combining, cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Finally add the secret ingredient, the 1/2 cup of organic catsup, stir-in thoroughly and taste for seasoning. If needed add 1/4 tsp of both Salt & Pepper for taste. Also, if needed add the reserved tomato and bean liquid if too thick. Mix completely. 

Serve in individual bowls. (6+ servings)

This beautiful and simple TURKEY CHILI will make you want to give up the beef version forever and does not need any condiments - but if you insist - a dollop of sour cream is a great addition on top. 

(Source: original recipe © Jack Atkinson developed for

Until later,
ARTSnFOOD, is an online publication dedicated to "The Pursuit of Happiness, the Arts and Food." ™ All rights reserved. Concept, Original Art, Text & Photographs are © Copyright 2013 Jack A. Atkinson under all International intellectual property and copyright laws. All gallery, museum, fair or festival photographs were taken with permission. Images © individual artists, fabricators, respective owners or assignees.


  1. I like the chili recipe with bacon. I will try that with my next pot of chili. On the Raphael painting, what seems interesting to me are the expressions of the characters. The white stallion has a supplicating look seeking approval from the viewer. The dragon is clearly being vanquished, presenting an almost sympathetic character. And St. George is sure in his victory. I can't help thinking of the symbolism here. The dragon seems like a motif for anything anti-Christian or anti-Catholic. There is Raphael's "St. George Fighting the Dragon" in 1504,, where the dragon is more aggressive and had already snapped St. George's lance. But it is interesting. Your comments on Rafael's artistic technique are very interesting. Thanks for your efforts!!

  2. I'm in love with georges s. Raphael and I want him to come and make love to me.

  3. Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

    An Thái Sơn chia sẻ trẻ sơ sinh nằm nôi điện có tốt không hay võng điện có tốt không và giải đáp cục điện đưa võng giá bao nhiêu cũng như mua máy đưa võng ở tphcm địa chỉ ở đâu uy tín.