Painting George the Victorious, Serov, 1885

Description of the picture:

George the Victorious – Valentin Aleksandrovich Serov. 1885. Oil on canvas. 136×70
At its core, the painting of George the Victorious is an icon: the plot, composition, some details (a halo over the hero’s head). Despite this, Serov violates all the canonical rules of iconography. His work is filled with realism, emotionality, action.

The canonical plot about the victory of St. George over the serpent appears before the viewer. Against a dark, almost black background, only the hero’s horse stands out, masterfully portrayed by Serov. The artist allows the viewer to conceive the finale on their own. Apparently, this is just a sketch, a sketch. But this does not reduce the impression of work.

It’s rather Don Quixote, judging by his helmet and knightly armor. In the hand of the holy horseman is a long spear painted in red. The spear strikes the snake with one end, and rests against the black sky with the other. The artist thereby wants to say that only God’s help helped St. George to win. He is only an instrument in the hands of the Lord.

The outcome of the battle is a foregone conclusion, but the battle is not over yet. Before us is the culmination of the battle – the defeat of the snake. George the Victorious himself is depicted as very miniature, fragile. There is nothing from a hero, a strong man or a hero.