St George, Solomon J. Solomon; oil on canvas, roughly 84 x 42 inches (213 x 106 cm); in the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts
The legend of Saint George and the Dragon, in which the heroic knight rescues a princess who had been offered up as tribute to a dragon, has a long history as a subject for artists.
Here, British Royal Academician Solomon J. Solomon, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, takes his stab at it (if you’ll excuse the expression) in a strikingly vertical composition through which he unerringly guides your eye.
The figures and drapery swirl around the axis of the knight’s lance, their body positions contributing to the turning and twisting effect.
Solomon’s muted browns and grays brings your attention to the bright skin of the woman, the high chroma gold of her robe with its white trim, the glinting of the knight’s armor, his hand and white sleeve, and into the highlights of the clouds — almost forming a circular mini-composition within the upper area of the painting.
The composition then guides you down the flow of the more muted fabric — still brighter than the knight’s garments — into the jaws of the now defeated dragon in all its glorious ugliness.