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The artist Myles Birket Foster commissioned Edward Burne-Jones to produce seven pictures on the theme of St George and the Dragon. It represents the legend of St George, a Roman tribune from Cappadocia, who went to Silene in Libya where a dragon was terrorizing the town, demanding young women be sent to it as sacrifices.
When it was the turn of the king's daughter, Princess Sabra, to be sacrificed, she was rescued by St George who agreed to slay the dragon if the king and his subjects would convert to Christianity.
Foster ordered the paintings for the dining room of his Tudor-style house, The Hill, at Whitley in Surrey, which he had designed himself in 1863 and had decorated by the newly-established firm of [William] Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. These were among the first pictures on which Burne-Jones's talented studio assistant Charles Fairfax Murray was employed.
After Foster left the house, the St George paintings came up for sale in 1894. The following year Burne-Jones undertook some restoration work to the set and it was exhibited in 1897, winning the gold medal at the Munich International Exhibition, and again at his memorial exhibition.
The series, which has since been widely dispersed, includes The Return of the Princess (Bristol City Art Gallery), The King's Daughter (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) and St George Kills the Dragon (Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney), with studies in Birmingham City Art Gallery and the British Museum.
(Text: Great Masters Gallery)