** Reproduced from: Series Byzantina. I. Warszawa, 2003, pp. 27–77.
© Waldemar Deluga, 2003
© Wydawnictwo Neriton, Warszawa, 2003
* The preparation of this article was made possible by a four-month scholarship at the University of St. Andrews. I would like to acknowledge the help I received from Dr Tassos Papacostas, London, and Mrs Margarita Kirillova, St. Peterburg, while collecting literature on the subject.
Few saints can boast the rich hagiography and variety of artistic depiction of St. George, an officer in the Roman Army, who was martyred during Diocletian's persecutions. Eusebius of Cesarea did not mention him in his History of the Church, nor in On Palestinian
1 Euzebiusz z Cezarei, Historia Kościelna, О męczennikach Palestyńskich, transl. and introd. A. Lisiecki, Poznań 1924, repr. Kraków 1993 (= Histoire ecclesiastique / Eusebe de Cesarée; texte grec, traduction et notes, [= Sources chrétiennes, LV], ed. Gustave Bardy, Paris 1984).
2 The text can be found on the first pages of Cod. Vindobonensis lat. 954.
3 Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies of St. Daniel the Stylite, St. Theodore of Sykeon and St. John the Almsgiver, ed. and transl. E. Dawes, introd. H. Baynes, London 1948, pp. 8–9. George with a sword in his hand appears to Theodore's mother and other women.
Already in pre-Iconoclast representations the saint appears not only in patrician attire, but also as a warrior in armour with spear and
4 Ch. Walter, “The origins of the cult of Saint George”, Revue des Etudes Byzantines, LIII, 1995, pp. 317–318. This cites an example of St. George depicted in sixth-century wall-paintings from Bawît, where the saint is shown as a warrior.
Among the representations of the saint in the art of the Eastern Church are occasional depictions of George on horseback accompanied by the considerably smaller figure of a young boy holding a vessel similar to a jug or a kettle, and sometimes a towel. As early as the 19th century, iconographers interested in Byzantine art noticed iconographic differences between those images without, however, being able to pinpoint their literary source. Adolph Didron was the first to mention the presence of a boy sitting behind the rider. Being unable to find any explanation for this, he left the issue
5 A. M. Didron, Manuel d'iconographie chrétienne, Paris 1845, p. 372.
6 C. Enlart, L'Art Gotique en Chypre, I, Paris 1899, p. 248.
7 Ch. Clermont-Ganneanu, “Horus et Saint Georges”, Revue Archéologique, XXII, 1876, p. 393, note 2.
Only the German philologist Johann B. Aufhauser has established a basis for further investigations on the topic of St. George with an adolescent. Firstly, in his publication examining the story of the fight against the dragon, he identified the boy with a certain Pankratios, Pasikrates or Passekras—a servant of the saint and the author of his Life who had been an eyewitness at his master's
8 J. B. Aufhauser, Das Drachenwunder des Heiligen Georg in der griechischen und lateinischen Überlieferung, [= Byzantinisches Archiv, V], Leipzig 1911, p. 166.
9 Idem, Miracula S. Georgii, Lipsiae 1913.
10 A french translation of the legend with the discussion about the text published by A. J. Festugière: “Sainte Thècle, Saints Côme et Damien, Saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), Saint Georges”, [in:] Collection grecques de miracles, Paris 1971, pp. 313–315 and passim.
The oldest legend—as far as chronology of the source is concerned—is entitled Heteron thayma peri tou arpagentos neon apo Syrias (De iuvene Paphlagonesi capto). The text is preserved in an eleventh-century redaction in Codex Parisinus 1604 on pages 174v–177v; its later variants can be found in the Codices Chalki (1559), Athous Josaphaion 60 from 1617 and Athous Paulou 91 dated generally to the 17th century. This version of the story reads as follows:
During their invasion of Paphlagonia the
11 Agarinoi — Hagarenes, Agarenes, descendants of biblical Hagar (Gen 16, 1–16), Egyptian slave of Abraham. The mother of Ishmael, according to Byzantine belief, was the ancestor of all Arabs. In the nineteenth-century redaction from Codex Joasaphaion 308 Agarenes was replaced by Turcs (“strateuma ton tourkon”).
12 In Georgian versions from the 14th–16th centuries Phatris appears as Patri, Parti, or even Patari. Also the Georgian manuscript Kutajskij 127, H-285 reallocates the plot from Paphlagonia to Palestine, see G. Sabinin, Raj Gruzii, St. Peterburg 1882, passim.
13 J. B. Aufhauser, Miracula…, pp. 13–18.
A more complex version of the legend survives in a manuscript written by the monk Theophanes in the year 1028, kept in the Moscow Synodal Library (Codex Mosquensis 381, fol. 11–16v). It can also be found in the following later manuscript versions: Vaticanus 679 dated to the 11th century, Parisinus 502 from the 12th century, Ambrosianus 192 from the 14th century, Athous Xenophon 4 from the 14th century, a manuscript housed in the National Library in Athens (no. 278) from the 14th century, Paris Coislin 275 from the 15th century, a manuscript from the Theological School Chalki 39 dated to 1617; Codex Athous Joasaphanion 66 from the 17th century, from the monastery Barlaam (no. 191) in Meteora from the 17th century; and no. 1026 in the National Library in Athens from the 17th century. The legend is known by the title taken from the Vatican manuscript: Diigisis peri tou paradoxou thaumatos tou agiou kai panendoxou megalomar tyros Georgiou, tou par' autou gegonotos eis aichmal[ot]isthenta paida kai par' elpida sothenta, although in the literature its Latin version has been accepted: De filio ducis Leonis capto in Paphlagonia. This legend was enriched with numerous details, although the general scheme of events remains constant. The place of action was also changed. According to it:
The cult of Saint George was propagated in Paphlagonia, especially in the place called “Potamos itoi i Oikiakos”, where a church of the saint was situated, to which numerous pilgrims were coming. A soldier lived there, named Leon. He and his wife Theophano revered this martyr, and when their son was born, they named him George. When the boy had grown up, his parents entrusted his education to those who maintained the shrine. When Bulgarians, Hungarians, Scythians, Medes and Turks threatened the northern borders of the empire, the emperor Phocas recruited an army. Leon, who was too old to become the commander of Byzantine forces, sent his twenty-year-old son George in his stead. Before the expedition started, they went to the church where George had been baptised, and the father invoked the protection of the saint patron for his namesake. The Byzantine army was defeated. Those soldiers who were not drowned at sea nor killed by famine were taken as prisoners. Young George, who was captured by the Bulgarians, was so handsome that their ruler made him a steward and kept the boy in his residence. Meanwhile the worried parents of the boy prayed to Saint George to liberate their child. His mother in particular was pained by the loss of her son, of whom she was reminded whenever she met boys his age. The feast of the martyred saint came and the parents of the prisoner went to the church for evening liturgy, following which they invited their relatives and friends for the traditional supper. However, sadness reigned during the supper, as everybody remembered the fate of the host's son. The same evening, the Bulgarian ruler ordered the boy to bring water for hand-washing during the supper in the palace. While the boy was going downstairs with a
14 Greek koykoymion — jug, kettle. The origin of the word is most fully explained by L. Kretzenbacher, Griechische Reiterheilige als Gefangenenretter, Wien 1983, pp. 20–21, citing among others “koumarion” from De Caeremoniis aulae byzantinae of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus and the biblical story about Elias and a widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 17). He quotes also other literature.
15 J. B. Aufhauser, Miracula…, pp. 18–44.
One should notice that this version contains some elements which echo historical events. This gives us some clues about the legend's date of origin. Andreas and Judith Stylianou judge that the emperor Phocas, who appears in the text, can be identified with Nicephorus II reigning in the years
16 A. Stylianou, J. Stylianou, The painted churches of Cyprus, London 1985, p. 467.
17 L. Kretzenbacher, Griechische Reiterheilige…, pp. 21–22.
18 J. B. Aufhauser, Miracula…, p. 23, noticed that this passage had been taken from the book of Exodus (15, 5). Therefore using literary convention one can refer the word “thalassa” not only to the sea but also to the river mouth near which this battle happened.
19 G. Ostrogorski, Dzieje Bizancjum, Warszawa 1967, pp. 224–228, especially 226.
Yet, hitherto, nobody has paid attention to another detail of the story which reflects actual circumstances—namely the fact that Leon was too old to be a commander of the expedition and sent his son instead. The custom of adolescent male descendants taking over the military duties of the father is connected with the formation of the thematic system in the Empire's Asian provinces between the 7th and 10th centuries. Retiring soldiers received parcels of land in particular themes. To maintain the property rights to land thus acquired, they had to send a son or male relative to the army. Intensification of this custom during the 9th and 10th centuries is mentioned in other texts, including hagiographic
20 About recruitment in the thematic system see J. Haldon, Recruitment and Conscription in the Byzantine Army c. 550–950. A Study on the Origins of the Stratiotika Ktemata, Wien 1979, pp. 41–65; also by the same author, the more recent “Military Service, Military Lands, and the Status of Soldiers: Current Problems and Interpretations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XLVII, 1993, pp. 1–67, especially 27. This also includes a bibliography on the subject.
The third version of the legend, preserved only in late manuscripts, originated from the period after the fall of Constantinople. The earliest version is included in Codex Vaticanus 1190, written down by John Presbyter in the year 1542. The narration of the story is more laconic than in previous texts, as indicated by the short title Etergon thauma, slightly extended in the Latin version De iuvene Mytilenaeo
21 Under the longer title: “Etergon thauma tou panendoxou kai thaumatourgou Georgiou tou tropaiof'horou peri tou arpasthentos eterou tinos neon” this legend appears in Codex Joasaphanion 308 (J. B. Aufhauser, Miracula…, p. 101), which could be a suggestion that in the Vatican manuscript the scribe shortened the pattern he used.
In Mytilene on Lesbos there was a church dedicated to Saint George. While planning the attack against this island, the Arabian [“Agarinoi”] pirates from Crete chose the day of the feast of the saint, when all the inhabitants were together in the church to celebrate the liturgy. Amongst those taken into captivity was the young and very handsome son of a widow. The Emir of Crete made him his personal cupbearer. For a whole year the despairing mother prayed to St. George hoping to get her son back. With particular fervour she asked the saint on his feast-day, in other words on the anniversary of her son's kidnapping by the Saracens. At such a moment, the boy was giving a glass of wine to the emir. Unexpectedly St. George appeared on a white steed, caught the boy and brought him to his mother's house. All the inhabitants of Mytilene revered the saint for his miraculous rescue of the
22 J. B. Aufhauser, Miracula…, pp. 100–103.
Although the third version is known only from late manuscripts, the facts described in it can be related to the situation on the islands of the Aegean Sea in the 9th or 10th centuries. Stavros Mihalarias and Robin Cormack think that Arabian rule on Crete (824 to 961) and also their attack on Lesbos (about 867) would naturally have been included in the story of the boy's
23 Supported by a historical research of V. Christides, “The Raids of the Moslems of Crete in the Aegean Sea. Piracy and Conquest”, Byzantion, LI, 1981, pp. 76–111, the year of 867 was presumed as a post quem date for the origin of the third version by R. Cormack, S. Mihalarias, “A crusader painting of St. George: ‘maniera greca’ or ‘lingua franca’?”, The Burlington Magazine, March 1984, pp. 132–141. L. Kretzenbacher, however, (Griechische Reiterheilige…, p. 22) dates it generally to the 10th century, though he inclines to the thesis that the events described in the text are related to Saracen expeditions of the 9th century. A. Stylianou, J. Stylianou, “I vyzantini techni kata tin periodo tis Fragkokratias (1191–1570)”, Istoria tis Kiprou, V, 1996, p. 1264, also propose years of 824–960.
The above comparison of these three legends allows one to say that—with the exception of some repeated motifs of which the structure of the story is built (like the boy's one-year slavery, his prayers to Saint George and the miraculous rescue by the mounted saint)—different narrative elements appear in successive versions of the legend. Some of them can be attributed to historical facts, which suggests a hypothesis concerning the date when particular versions were composed. The texts of all three legends must definitely have been composed between the second half of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century. The ante quem date is determined by the presence of Arabian pirates from Crete and the Bulgarian ruler, tsar Symeon, memories of whom were undoubtedly still alive among the authors of the legend. Hence texts must have come into existence during the lives of a few generations, when an oral tradition still
24 It seems unbelievable that the Mytilenian version (known only from late manuscripts) was written after 1071, when the Byzantine army was defeated in the battle near Mantzikert and Turkish tribes captured Anatolia. No trace of this event exists in the redaction of this legend; similarly the author did not mention the Norman expedition, nor the passage of the first Crusade.
25 E. S. Ovčinnikova, “Vnov’ otkrytyj pamiatnik stankovoj živopisi iz sobranija Gosudarstvennogo Istoričeskogo Muzeja”, Vizantijskij Vremennik, XXXVII, 1976, pp. 229–230. The author suggests that the legend was taken from Metaphrastes’ Menologion, put together under the order of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. Nevertheless this text under the date of April 23 contains only a description of the martyrdom of George, together with the legend of the finding of the cattle and a few less important miracles, without mentioning the miracle with the boy, cf. J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus. Series graeca, Paris, CXV, col. 141–161.
26 E. A. Wallis Budge, George of Lydda. The Patron Saint of England. A study of the Cults of Saint George in Ethiopia, London 1931, passim.
The motif of kidnapping a handsome adolescent and then making him a steward was common among the Greeks because of the classical myth about Ganymede, son of the Trojan king Tros (or Laomedon), who was captured by Zeus or Cretan Minos. Both stories are connected not only by the character of the young cupbearer, but also by the place where he was captured. According to different versions it happened on Mount Ida in Troas, in the town of Harpage in Mysia in Asia Minor, or on
27 P. Grimmal, Słownik mitologii greckiej i rzymskiej, Wrocław—Warszawa—Kraków 1990, pp. 110–111.
* * *
Josef Myslivec, whose monograph on the iconography of St. George draws on sources published by Aufhauser, linked Post-Byzantine Moldavian, Georgian and Athos images of George with a boy on horseback with the chronologically second version of the legend about the son of Leo the
28 J. Myslivec, “Svatý Jiři ve východnokrestanském umění”, Byzantinoslavica, V, 1933/4, p. 341.
29 N. P. Kondakov, Russkaja ikona, III, Praga 1931, p. 105.
30 J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 337.
The next examples from sixteenth to nineteenth-century Romanian and Athos art were provided by Maria Golescu in her paper devoted especially to the problem of images of St. George with an accompanying figure. She also enriched the body of known sources with two added versions of the legend, but in her opinion none of them can be definitely recognised as the literary pattern for the representations of St. George and the boy. In addition, she noticed that the “Mytilenian” version is only insignificantly modified in relation to the primary “Paphlagonian” legend. She also pointed to the popularity of this subject in Post-Byzantine graphic
31 M. Golescu, “Saint Georges delivre l'adolescent emmené en captivité par les infidels”, Bulletinul Comisiei Monumentelor Istorice, XXX/3, 1937, pp. 128–131.
A step backwards, which has confused investigations in this field, was David Talbot Rice's report delivered at the Sixth International Congress of Byzantine Studies in Paris. Unaware of earlier research, he tried again to find an explanation of the motif of an accompanying youth. This fact seems especially strange because Talbot Rice knew Myslivec's publication, to which he refers in his notes. To explain the presence of the boy in images of Saint George, he argued that this person should be seen in the religious context of crusader culture as a squire, or as a representation of the princess. If the latter is the case then the motif was derived from Persian
32 D. Talbot Rice, “The Accompanied Saint George”, [in:] Actes du VIe congrès international d'études byzantines, II, Paris 1951, pp. 383–387. The thesis is supported by the Coptic Synaxarion, according to which Saint George was to be accompanied by the princess, as the researcher published in his book: Idem, The Icons of Cyprus, London 1937, p. 83.
33 I. Dujčev, “Due note di storia medievale”, Byzantion, XXIX–XXX, 1959–1960, pp. 259–266. especially pp. 259–261. Also by the same author—Razkaz z “cudoto” na velikamučenik Georgi sus sina na Luv Paflagonski—plennik u Bulgarite, [in:] Isledovanija v pamet na Karel Škoril, Sofia 1961, pp. 189–200.
Questions connecting the image of Saint George and an adolescent in Georgian art with representations of Saint George and the dragon, were examined by E. L. Privalova in an extensive paper covering all previous findings. Knowing the Greek version of the legend, she also used later Georgian versions to explain the iconographic difference between representations. Privalova focused mainly on the early examples mentioned, as well as later works, separating autonomous representations of the legend from the single motif of an accompanying person that occurred also in illustrations of other miracles. In her opinion, the presence of the iconographic theme was caused by an aesthetic need to reflect the couple on the representation of St. George killing a
34 E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene dvuh kompozicij ‘cudes’ sv. Georgija v gruzinskih rozpisah zrelogo srednevekovia”, Vestnik otdeleja obščestvennyh nauk AN Gruzinskoj SSR, I, 1963, pp. 181–221; see also by the same author, Pavnisi, Tbilisi 1977, pp. 93–109.
On the other hand, no other text of the legend was known to D. R. Howell, who tried to explain the presence of the second rider by transferring the Muslim legend about Al-Khadr who accompanied Moses or even a story about a cook from the Romance of Alexander the Great to the Christian tradition. According to his theory the representation of St. George riding with an adolescent on horseback was established by artists in the monastic society on Mount Sinai where the influence of Christianity and that of Islam
35 D. R. Howell, “Al-Khadr and Christian icons”, Ars Orientalis, VIII, 1968, pp. 41–51.
36 Amongst other wrong interpretations of the figure of the boy accompanying St. George it is worth mentioning the theory that it could be a funeral portrait of a child buried in the neighbourhood of the wall-painting in a church, cf. O. I. Dombrovskij, Freski srednevekovogo Kryma, Kiev 1966, p. 39.
Independently of Privalova's work, false interpretations were collected and corrected by Otto Meinardus in his discussion of mounted saints rescuing their followers from
37 O. Meinardus, “The Equestrian Deliverer in Eastern Iconography”, Oriens Christianus, LVII, 1973, pp. 142–155.
38 Ibid., p. 148.
While discussing the icon of St. George with a boy in the State Museum of History in Moscow, E. S. Ovčinnikova studied literary sources other than the hitherto mentioned Greek and Georgian manuscripts. In her opinion the Thesaurus—which was written by the monk Damaskinos (Sub-deacon and Studite of Thessaloniki) and published between 1528–1558 in Venice and contains a Neo-Greek version of the story, as well as Slavic translations—contributed to the popularisation of the subject in Balkan art. Providing examples mainly from places on the coast of the Black Sea, the author distinguished a dependent iconographic variant combining elements from the stories about the youth and about the fight with the
39 E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit., pp. 228–234.
An article was devoted to this problem by the German researcher Thomas Raff who, having analysed a large group of representations, distinguished two iconographic subtypes. The first one containing only the image of the saint with a youth on horseback was called “autonomous” to distinguish it from the type which became popular from the 14th century, where the dragon and sometimes also the princess were included. He also paid attention to the epithet “Diasoritis” often applied to scenes with a youth. Raff's investigation was based mainly on material collected on the Greek islands, and particularly on Crete, Rhodes and
40 T. Raff, “Der hl. Georg als Knabenretter”, Münchner Zeitschrift für Balkankunde, III, 1980, pp. 113–126.
Raff's systemization of these two iconographic types was verified by Leopold Kretzenbacher in his two consecutive dissertations and enriched with some further examples from the Greek Islands and the Balkan peninsula. To explain the increased popularity of this iconographic subject under Turkish rule, he pointed to the ideological function of representations of St. George with a youth, particularly apparent in nineteenth-century graphics of the Bulgarian National Renaissance. The anti-Turkish—or more generally anti-Muslim—message of representations of this saint rescuing a Christian prisoner from pagan captivity is, in his opinion, undeniable. Moreover, this author noted the fact that the representation of St. George with the boy is included in numerous groups of images of saints who are shown with a person accompanying them. He then compared their legends. In all cases the ideological message of the image is the same and refers to protection by the saint, who appears on a horse and carries a believer praying to
41 L. Kretzenbacher, “Sankt Georg mit dem Jüngling auf dem Streitross. Zur antitürkischen Volksdeutung eines mittelalterlichen Bildmotivs”, Münchner Zeitschrift für Balkankunde, I, 1978, pp. 181–196; and also Griechische Reiterheilige…, especially pp. 7–36.
Independently of the work of the German scholars, R. Cormack and S. Mihalarias returned to this subject in their article about an icon housed in the British Museum, which they recognized as a thirteenth-century work from a crusader workshop
42 R. Cormack, S. Mihalarias, op. cit., pp. 132–141.
Also within the context of the crusader legacy, more precisely, the frescoes in one of chapels of the monastery of John Chrysostom above Koutsovendis, A. and J. Stylianou discussed the iconography of Saint George with an adolescent. Fundamentally those authors based their text on previous considerations by Golescu as well as Cormack and Mihalarias, showing only their own proposition of the view of historical events described in the legend. Unlike the other authors, they used only Damaskinos'
43 A. Stylianou, J. Stylianou, The painted churches…, p. 467.
Jaroslav Folda and Erica Cruikshank Dodd have recently contributed to the subject in their discussion of crusader art. They emphasise the popularity of the cult of Saint George in Syria and Palestine as well as accounting for the common representation of a riding warrior saint as being the result of the culture of chivalry dominating in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Like Cormack and Mihalarias, they paid attention only to the “Mytilenian” version of the legend. Folda collected more numerous
44 J. Folda, P. French, “Crusader frescoes at Crac des Chevaliers and Marqab Castle”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XXXVI, 1982, pp. 177–212, especially 194–195.
45 J. Folda, The Art of the Crusaders in the Holy Land, 1098–1187, Cambridge 1995, p. 403; by the same author “Crusader Art”, [in:] The Glory of Byzantium. Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era AD 843–1261. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1997, p. 395.
46 E. C. Dodd, “The Monastery of Mar Musa al-Habashi, near Nebek, Syria”, Arte mediévale, series 2, VI/1, 1992, pp. 61–135, especially pp. 126–127 and footnote 75.
Other authors, mainly in catalogues, also mention the legend about St. George saving an adolescent from the captivity. However they usually only repeat earlier theories and their statements are not important for the research on this
47 Among numerous publications in the category of catalogue one can mention D. Wild, Les icones. Art religieux de l'Orient, Berne 1947; Icônes Melkites. Exposition organisée par le Musée Nicolas Sursock du 16 mai аи 15 juni 1969, ed. V. Cândea, Beyrouth 1969, especially p. 229, where M. Chatzidakis discusses this type within the work George of Candia in Sinai in the 16th century. However, this author mentions only a late version of the legend, according to which the adolescent was brought to Algeria. Previous statements in a form of encyclopaedic definition were published by E. Kirschbaum, W. Braunfels, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, VI, Rom—Freiburg—Basels 1974, col. 366–390, especially 371; and L. Réau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, III/2, Paris 1958, p. 578.
This survey suggests that considerable effort has been devoted to explain the significance of the companion of St. George in depictions of this legend. So far, however, authors have concentrated first and foremost on how to explain the composition using the text of the legend, and have presented artistic evidence selectively, often as a marginal aspect, and without integrating it satisfactorily. On the other hand, the more comprehensive studies by O. Meinardus, T. Raff or L. Kretzenbacher neglect a considerable group of paintings discovered in the last twenty years. Therefore they present the subject incompletely. Such situation calls for a fresh attempt to adapt the theories advanced to date, taking into account the new evidence.
* * *
The oldest currently known representations of the legend date from the turn of the 11th and of the 12th centuries. Hence they were created at the same time, or soon after the text had been edited. All early images, which have survived, are in Georgian churches dedicated to St. George. They are a part of cycles of St. George's life and were designed to complement an equestrian representation of the warrior fighting with a
48 E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, pp. 190, 206.
In a group of five scenes found in early medieval Georgian churches, one in a bad repair and painted on the southern wall of a small church in Adiši, Upper Svanetia (northern Georgia), shows the oldest scene. On this fresco dated to the second half (or possibly end) of the 11th century St. George is depicted in armour, wearing a cloak flying in the wind and galloping on a white steed. A disproportionately small figure sits sideways behind George's back, with a jug in his right hand and holding on to the saint's back. These arriving figures are welcomed by two further figures with arms open in a gesture of surprise. They wear red cloaks and long decorative tunics and are located at the opposite side of the scene. Undoubtedly, they represent the boy's
49 Ibid., pp. 192–193, 208, fig. 2.
The same episode was probably illustrated on the seriously damaged fresco from the first quarter of
50 Ibid., p. 197 (note 74).
51 Ibid., p. 208, fig. 5; the author interprets the scene as an illustration of the Mytilenian version, cf. below, note 108. The architectural forms in the background, however, differ from the formulas accepted for sacral buildings by the art of the Eastern Church. Note too the lack of the garment elements typical to priests (see Ch. Walter, Art and Ritual of the Byzantine Church, London 1982, passim) which is contrary to her interpretation.
The scene of George coming back with the boy freed from captivity was enriched with another frescoed motif from the period between 1158 and 1184 in the church in
52 E. L. Privalova, Pavnisi, p. 18.
In order to illustrate the boy meeting his parents the painter diverged from the formula he had used hitherto and applied a continuous representation. On the left side of the composition is shown St. George, holding a spear (kontarion); he is wearing a dark-red cloak, golden armour, with a blue chiton appearing from under the armour, and a round shield. The saint is sitting on a horse unusually painted in ochre colour, whose forelegs are raised. As in the previous examples, behind the saint's back is a youth in a pink tunic and blue leggings, holding a tall, rather convex ewer. Owing to the clothes and ewer his repeated figure can also be recognised in the centre part of the composition. A woman in a long dress is leaning over him, embracing him tenderly. She can be identified as the boy's mother—Theophano. The background for this emotionally expressive couple is an undamaged lower part of a figure in white tunic and red cloak, probably boy's father; whereas the right side of the scene is occupied by four banqueters sitting at the table spread with an abundance of
53 Eadem, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, pp. 213–216, fig. 7; Privalova associates the style of paintings with the twelfth/thirteenth-century works from Kincvisi, Vardzia and Bethania.
The ease with which the artist designed the composition, the anatomical correctness and dynamic representation of the figures, the ample colouring, his ability to express feelings and impression of depth created by the image show that the author of the painting was a sensitive observer, exploiting his perceptions in art. The fact, that he applied an ochre colour to George's steed, contrary to the canon of the time, suggests the painter's willingness to experiment. In the light of these observations, it is probable that the Pavnisi painting was the first where the motif of banqueters had been added to the subject of the miraculous rescue of the youth.
The Pavnisi composition was copied on the northern wing of the transept in the church in Ikvi, but small changes were made. The fresco, dating from the turn of the 13th century, was compositionally similar to the preceding example. Below it is the scene showing the fight against the dragon. The armoured George, holding a lance, arrives from the left on a white horse with his cloak streaming in the wind. Behind him a boy sits in a long tunic and a calpack on his head, holding a ewer with a spherical base.
On the right side the figure of the boy is repeated, this time standing in front of the table, behind which two banqueters and the boy's parents are presented in rigid
54 Ibid., pp. 194, 210–212, fig. 3; the author dates the painting to the wide period between the end of the 11th century to the beginning of the 13th century.
55 Ibid., p. 211, gives the original Georgian inscription, together with its Russian translation.
Apart from the four above-mentioned scenes, a small fragment of painting remained in the church at Zemo-Arcevi near Gori, in the middle of Georgia. The church was probably decorated in the 12th century, but the large extent of destruction of the frescos does not allow precise dating. On the western wall an image of a white saddled horse carrying two figures has survived, only the lower parts of whom are visible. The rider can he identified as a warrior thanks to pteryges, being a lower part of his armour, whilst the accompanying person possesses an attribute in the form of a big ewer, similar in shape to the vessels from Pavnisi and Ikvi. Therefore, the damaged scene can be recognised as the miracle with the
56 Ibid., p. 218, fig. 10.
St. George was among the most popular saints in the art of medieval Georgia, and the number of portraits depicting him in military dress is greater than in the art of any other
57 Numerous examples in goldsmiths' work of the images of George dated to from the 9th–10th century up to the 19th century are published by G. N. Čubinšvili, Gruzinskoe čekoannoe iskusstvo, I–II, Tbilisi 1959, passim.
58 Initially equestrian representations of St. George showed him spearing the Roman emperor Diocletian, and this image was combined with the figure of St. Theodore killing the dragon. This is the way, how both saints were depicted on the relief decoration on the wall of the Achtamar church, see for example J. G. Davies, The Church of the Holy Cross, Aght'amar, London 1991, p. 102, figs. 35–38.
59 I. A. Džavahišvili, Kartveli eris istoria (History of Georgian nation), Tbilisi 1960, pp. 44–56. On the other hand A. Rystenko, “Legenda о sv. Georgii i drakone v vizantijskoj i slaviano-russkoj literaturah”, Zapiski imperatorskogo Novorossijskogo universiteta, CXII, 1909, p. 459, suspects a connection between St. George and a superior military deity.
60 Jacques de Vitry, Historia orientalis, Paris 1597, quot. foll. D. Marshall Lang, Dawna Gruzja, Warszawa 1972, p. 90.
Although the certain popularity of subjects connected with the person of St. George—as well as his various representations emerging for the very first time in Georgian art—could be sufficient to explain depiction of this subject, the moment when this theme appears on church walls seems also to be of importance. Although it cannot be dated precisely, the oldest representations occurred in the second half of the 11th century, i.e. in the period of the invasion of the Seljuk Turks, which lasted from 1066 until the whole country was conquered in 1089. The frescos created at that time had to have an anti-Muslim overtone and promote the saint as a guardian of Christians, protecting them against infidels. The legend On the son of Leon might seem well-suited to Georgia, a nation famous for its warlike spirit. Interesting is that the theme did not disappear after Georgia had regained independence in the year 1121, but spread into other Orthodox countries.
To the oldest examples of non-Georgian representations of the legend of St. George rescuing a youth from captivity one can include an image from Northern Cyprus, dated to the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries and therefore contemporary with the paintings from Pavnisi and Ikvi. It is located in a cemetery chapel of Panagia Aphendirika at St. John Chrysostom monastery in the village of Koutsovendis, on the southern slopes of the Kyrenia
61 A. Stylianou, J. Stylianou, The painted churches…, pp. 456–467, fig. 280. For information about the paintings in the katholicon of St. John monastery see also: C. Mango, “The Monastery of St. Chrysostomos at Koutsovendis (Cyprus) and its Wall Paintings, Part I. Description”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XLIV, 1990, pp. 63–94.
62 For information about the importance of physiognomy as an element defining saints in Byzantine art see: H. Maguire, The Icons of their bodies: Saints and their images in Byzantium, Princeton 1996, passim; and A. Kazhdan, H. Maguire, “Byzantine Hagiographical Texts as Sources on Art”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XLV, 1991, pp. 1–22.
Despite considerable damage to the painting, covering not only a part of the boy's head, but also the lower part of the composition, one can state that—comparing to the Georgian representations—the author reduced the theme here and limited himself to the depiction of an accompanied rider. Nowadays the Cypriot painting is the oldest known composition of such limited
63 As the fresco in Zemo-Arcevi is not in good condition, its identification as a simplified type, suggested by Privalova, is devoid of real basis. Cf. E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 218.
Another example of a similar redaction of the theme is a small icon kept in the British Museum and dated to the mid–13th century (fig. 1). Although Cormack and Mihalarias, who studied this icon, did not unequivocally state, where the icon was created, they suspected a crusader workshop in Palestine, working in a Greek manner rather than a Cypriot society. In their opinion the icon was in all likelihood produced in Lydda, east of Jaffa, where St. George's martyrium was
64 R. Cormack, S. Mihalarias, op. cit., pp. 132–141. Ibid., description, note 1. Widely dated to the third quarter of 13th century, more precisely to the middle of the century, pp. 134–137; the icon was auctioned by Christies in 1978 as a nineteenth-century Russian work from a British collection. However the background is graced with a convex ornament of twisting vegetation formed in a plaster covering the icon, recalling the manner popular in thirteenth-century workshops in the Levant. Such attribution is confirmed by the way in which the physiognomy is modelled, and the arrangement of drapery close to the that on the miniatures of the Bible kept in the Paris Arsenal Library under the no. 5211, dated to 1250–1254; Cormack and Mihalarias’ thesis was accepted in: Byzantium. Treasures of Byzantine Art and Culture, ed. D. Buckton, London 1994, p. 176.
65 For information about artistic relationships and the transfer of works of art between the Sinai monastery, Cyprus and Crusader countries see: K. Weitzmann, “A group of early twelfth-century Sinai icons attributed to Cyprus”, [in:] Studies in memory of David Talbot Rice, redaction G. Robertson, G. Henderson, Edinburgh 1975, pp. 47–61.
Excellent condition permits us to see the most minute details of the composition. George is shown in armour resembling a bekhter or a hauberk, with a Roman officer's belt on his chest (zoni stratiotiki), leather flaps (pteryges), a dark-blue tunic appearing from underneath, and a carmine chlamys streaming in the wind. His head is decorated with a narrow diadem of pearls and
66 On the iconography and symbolic meaning of a diadem in representations of saint-warriors see A. Arnulf, “Eine Perle für das Haupt Leonis VI”, Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, XXII, 1990, pp. 69–84.
67 In the light of the fact that the gear of cavalrymen typical in Byzantine art is also mentioned in written sources, Cormack’s suggestion that the military elements shown on the icon are a product of the artist’s imagination should be excluded, cf. R. Cormack, S. Mihalarias, op. cit., p. 132; About literary resources see J. F. Haldon, “Some aspects of Byzantine military technology from the sixth to the tenth centuries”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, I, 1975, pp. 11–47, T. Kolias, Byzantinische Waffen, Wien 1988, passim.
68 R. Cormack, S. Mihalarias, op. cit., p. 137.
The sea filled with fish—a part of the landscape under the horse's hooves—is painted much more clearly on an icon from St. Catherine's church on Mount Sinai. Probably it is the work of a western painter, contemporary with the London representation. In both cases the background is decorated by the same method, and, as far as the composition is concerned, the two paintings only differ in details. On the Sinai icon a rider and his horse move towards the left. The saint's chest and belly are protected by body armour and the boy wears a long tunic with sleeves. Some difference is also visible when comparing the manner in which the saddle and trappings are represented.
The thesis that the theme of a sea bay under the horse's hooves was introduced into the iconography of St. George rescuing a youth is permited by the reconstruction of the next two early examples of this subject, which survived in fragments. Since the sea and swimming fishes are not present in the images of other riders in medieval art, they make it possible to identify the original scene.
The first of these examples is a fragment of a fresco on the northern wall of the so-called “Baptismal Chapel” (discovered in 1935) in the Syrian Crusaders' castle of Crac des Chevaliers. Only the bottom part of the composition remained: the legs of a white horse are visible and a patch of blue water with swimming fish is placed under the hoofs. According to J. Folda the fresco belongs to a group of images of St. George with the son of the widow of Mytilene and could be attributed to the hand of a Frankish or Catalonian master working in the 12th and
69 J. Folda, P. French, op. cit., pp. 194–195.
The painting in a chapel at the monastery of Mar Musa al Habashi (St. Moses the Ethiopian), near Nebek, Syria, dates from the same time. On the southern wall of the main nave an image of St. George galloping on a white steed is placed amid six equestrian images of Holy Warriors, among whom feature Sergios holding a crusader standard and Theodore killing a dragon. The upper part of the image was destroyed as in Crac des Chevaliers, but the remains of a Greek inscription
70 E. C. Dodd, op. cit., pp. 84–87, fig. 29.
The evidence of the exceptional popularity of the legend of St. George rescuing a youth in the art of crusader kingdoms can be also found in the survived wall-paintings remaining in Lebanese churches in Edde, Enfe and
71 Y. Sader, Peintures murales dans les églises Maronites médiévales, Beirut 1987, pp. 21– 22, fig. 26.
Syrian Orthodox society must have played a leading role in copying from Georgia an equestrian motif of George with a youth. Simultaneously, at the end of the 12th century, a type began to appear where the sea is visible at the bottom part of the composition. Numerous Georgian monastic societies with long traditions in the Holy Land, as well as pilgrims to holy sites, may have participated in promoting artistic
72 Among the most important Georgian monasteries in twelfth-century Palestine, the following should be mentioned: the Monastery of Peter the Iberian near Bethlehem and that of St. Saba in the valley of the Cedron River. One should remember the Georgian Church’s care of the Chapel of Finding the Holy Cross and its temporary protection of the Calvary in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The popularity of St. George in the crusader countries in Levant can be justified by various circumstances. First of all, one should remember that Palestine, as St. George's homeland and as a possible site of his
73 According to another version, George died in Nicomedia, following which his body was moved for burial in his home at Lydda. This was temporarily renamed Georgioupolis and so George of Cyprus names it in his seventh-century work Descriptio orbis Romani. Another place which boasted of the martyr’s relics was the church built circa 515 in Ezra (Zorava), see The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. A. P. Kazhdan, II, Oxford 1991, p. 834; Ch. Walter, “The origins of the cult…”, p. 314.
74 Ch. Walter (see previous note) gives the years of 514/515 as the very first time when the cult of St. George’s relic was mentioned; texts of the relations are published by P. Greyer, Itinera hierosolymitana saeculi VI–VIII, Wien 1898, pp. 139–294.
75 This legend was presented by William of Tyre in his Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, Book 8, Ch. 16; see Willemi Tyrensis Archiepiscopi Chronicon, [in:] Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis, XIII, ed. R. B. C. Huygens, H. E. Mayer, G. Rösch, Turnholt 1986, p. 407. According to another version of the legend, St. George supported the Crusaders during the siege of Antioch in the year 1098. The motif of the saint supporting the fighters had been known before that time and had appeared in the report of the Georgian catholicos Visarion from the wars against the Persians, see J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 365. Also St. Demetrius was often seen defending Thessaloniki from barbarians, see for example the set of Miracula written by John, bishop of Thessaloniki, ed. P. Lemerle, Les plus anciens recueils des Miracles de Saint Démétrius et la pénétration des Slaves dans les Balkans, I, Paris 1979, pp. 133–138.
76 See for example coins minted by Roger of Antioch with the equestrian representation of the saint, R. Pesant, “S. George and the dragon on the coinage of Roger of Antioch”, Spink numismatic circular, C/3, 1992, p. 79, figs. 1–4.
Taking all these factors into account one should not be surprised at the popular reception of St. George rescuing a youth in Crusader art, particularly in the context of Saladin's invasion. The loss of Jerusalem, coinciding with the introduction of the new theme taken from the saint's biography into the paintings in churches, made that theme particularly apposite. Recalling the saint's protection must have heartened the faithful in a difficult time.
Current knowledge must leave the issue open as to whether the theme of the accompanied saint on horse back emerged in Armenian art of the 12th and 13th centuries, which would be helpful in assessing the role of Georgian iconography in the introduction of this theme to Crusader art. Based on the approximate dating of particular works one can try to reconstruct the process of geographical expansion of the theme in Levantine art. It must have been transmitted from works created in Syria and Palestine to Cypriot examples. This thesis is not militated against by the early date of the image in the monastery of Koutsovendis, since it may have been produced once Richard the Lion-Heart captured the island in
77 For information concerning traces of Richard the Lion-Heart’s conquest of the island in Cypriot paintings, see A. Stylianou, “Sociological reflections in the painted churches of Cyprus”, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensi. Figura, XIX, 1981 [= Les pays du Nord et Byzance (Scandinavie et Byzance). Actes du colloque d'Upsal 20–22 avril 1979], pp. 523–529.
Undeniably, the icon in St. Marina's church in the village of Filousa Kelokedaron, currently kept in the Byzantine Museum of the Paphos
78 S. Sophocleus, Icons of Cyprus 7th–20th Century, Nicosia 1994, pp. 75–76; A. Papageorgiou, Icons of Cyprus, Nicosia 1992, pp. 73, 77, fig. 53. This author inclines to date the icon even to the 14th century.
79 J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 319, mentions the expression “Cappadocian” appearing on the standard of the Moldavian ruler Stephan the Great, dated to the beginning of the 16th century, where St. George was presented sitting on the throne, holding a sword in his hands and the dragon lying at his feet.
80 E. Wallis Budge, The Martyrdom and Miracles of Saint George of Cappadocia. The Coptic Text edited with an English Translation, London 1888; see also J. P. Migne, Patrologiae…, CXV, col. 249; and Bibliotheca Hagiographica Orientalia, CCCX, Brussels 1888, p. 205.
While the group of early representations of St. George and the youth in Georgia, the Holy Land, and Cyprus is so numerous, examples from before the end of the 13th century in other countries are rare. Amongst them is a painting in a Cappadocian three-apse church in Antigous (the present day Ortaköy near Altunhisar), which, according to one of the legends, was George's place of origin. When the church was decorated Antigous was already ruled by Seljuks. The painting is dated to before 1293, though some conjecture that it may have been created
81 C. Jolivet-Lévy, Les églises byzantines de Cappadoce, Paris 1991, pp. 252–253 f. N. Thierry (note 20) says that the painted decoration of the nave comes from the same period as that of the vestibulum; the terminus ante quem of the paintings in the vestibulum is determined by the epitaphs on the walls from the year 1293. On the other hand M. Restle and F. Hild, Tabula Imperii Byzantini. Kappadokien (Kappadokia, Charsianon, Sebasteia und Lukandos) [= Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften philolophisch-historische Klasse Denkschriften, CXLIX], II, Wien 1981, p. 232. Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst, III, Stuttgart 1978, col. 969–1115, suggests, that the church was built in the 13th century, but reallocate the decoration to the Post-Byzantine period.
82 Information about the inscription is provided by V. N. Lazarev, “Novyj pamiatnik stankovoj živopisi XII veka i obraz Georgija—vojna v vizantijskom i drevnerusskom iskusstve”, [in:] Russkaja srednevekovaja živopis’—Stat’i i issledovania, Moskva 1970, p. 78, note 123. G. de Jerphanion, Les églises rupestres de Cappadocie—Texte, II, part 1, Paris 1936, p. 241 writes that St. George is killing the dragon with his spear, but today it is hard to verify if it is a mistake of the author, or if in this case two legends were actually put together. This author gives also older bibliography about the term Diasoritis (H. Grégoire, Saint George le Diasorite, Revue de l'instruction publique en Belgique, LII, 1909, pp. 1–3).
83 T. Raff, op. cit., pp. 117–120, establishes a connection between the epithet and the ancient name of Ortaköy, and gives different examples of this iconographic subject. On the contrary J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 322 links this term with the monastery in Amorgos Island within the Cyclades and points out that this iconographic topic is connected mainly with another composition. He provides examples of the fresco on the Orthodox Church in Staro Nagoričino (14th century), the icon from the Historical Museum in Moscow (pre-15th century) and the fresco in the Athos Monastery of Xenophont; see also: A. Kyriaki Vassiliov, “O agios Georgios о Diasoritis auf Siegeln. Ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte der Laskariden”, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XC, 1997, pp. 416–424, especially 419–420.
Also on Crete, which soon after Cyprus became a Western colony (after the Fourth Crusade Boniface of Montferrat, who has been granted Crete, sold it to Venice) subject of St. George saving the youth from captivity appears in the middle of the 13th century. The present of a new, roman-catholic ruler was not an obstacle for Orthodox donors and
84 For recent research about the Cretan environment of painters working during the period of Venetian rule see A. E. Laiou, “Venetians and Byzantines: Investigations of Forms of Contact in the Fourteenth Century”, Thesaurismata, Bolletino dell'Istituto Ellenico di Studi Bizantini e Postbizantini, XX, 1992, pp. 22–43; also: M. Georgopoulou, “Late Medieval Crete and Venice: An Appropriation of Byzantine Heritage”, Art Bulletin, LXXVI, 1995, pp. 479–496.
85 S. Maderakis, “I ekklesia tou 'Agiou Georgiou stin Kantano Selinou”, the report pronounced during the Annual Symposium of Christian Archaeological Society in Athens (4–6 of May 2001).
86 I. Spatharakis, Byzantine Wall Paintings of Crete, I, Rethymnon Province, London 1999, pp. 231–232, 336, fig. 290.
87 T. Raff, op. cit, p. 126, for general information on the paintings in the church see: M. Bissinger, “Kreta: byzantinische Wandmalerei”, Münchener Arbeiten zur Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie, IV, 1995, p. 97.
While the image from the church in Komitades precisely repeats the patterns developed in Syria, the icon from Erzerum, Asia Minor, which was produced in 1327 and taken to
88 H. F. Lynch, Armenia. Travels and Studies, I, The Russian provinces, London 1937, pp. 128–129, fig. 25. Since the icon was repainted its stylistic features cannot he recognised easily and some trials were made to re-establish the dating in both directions: backward as far as the 11th century and forward to the post-Byzantine era. On the icon itself, however, survived the date 1327.
The legend of George defeating the dragon and rescuing the princess remained in many texts from various periods, but the oldest version known today comes from Georgia and is dated to the end of 11th century, although older examples surely
89 The text of the legend preserved in the Georgian manuscript in the library of the Greek Patriarchate of Jerusalem (cod. 2) has been recently quoted in an English translation Ch. Walter, “The origins of the cult…”, pp. 320–321. A direct formal template for the legend was probably the story of St. Theodore Tyron fighting against the dragon to rescue a woman named Eusebia. This thesis is strengthened by the fact that equestrian representations of George and Theodore killing the dragon were often set together.
90 Traces of the theme of St. George killing the dragon appeared in art earlier that it was in Cappadocia, could be found in Georgia. On the early-feudal stele from Kvemo Kartli is preserved the inscription “this is a dragon” and the letters “rg” and “i” next to the representation of the warrior (letters located by the sides of the warrior's head); see E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 182.
91 Ch. Walter, “The origins of the cult…”, p. 322. Beside the examples from Pavnisi and Ikvi Walter gives other additional ones from Bočorma (circa 1100) and Adiši (the end of 11th century). Taking into account the oldest redaction of the legend of the dragon and the princess and the theme’s popularity in the art of the Caucasus region, he is inclined to accept its Georgian origin.
The combination of the two themes is not justified by the hagiography, where both legends are distinct and refer to different periods of time. Obviously the messages conveyed by both events are alike, but one cannot identify the fight against the transcendental evil symbolised by the dragon with the protection of Christians from infidels. It seems to be the case that the reason for combining these themes lies somewhere else and should be sought in a compositional transition occurring at that time.
First of all it should be remembered that the paintings illustrating “the miracle with the boy” on the walls of Georgian churches were composed as a pendant to the complex scene of saving the princess. Probably the decoration in the rock-church of “Three Riders” in the Eski-Kermena graveyard in the Crimea was inspired by these paintings. The decoration can be interpreted as an intermediate phase between the “autonomous” representation of the miracle with the boy and the composition combining both
92 The idea of the Georgian origin of the pattern used by the painter is also supported by the motif of a spirally twined dragon’s body, appearing in the art of this country as early as the end of the 10th century (the plaques with the representation of Sts. Theodores of the Holy Cross from Sakdari), see G. N. Čubinšvili, op. cit., vol. 2, fig. 40.
93 Although the legend about Theodore Tiro saving a boy sold into captivity to Ishmaelites is older then George’s miracle (see Ch. Walter, “Theodore, Archetype of the Warrior Saint”, Revue des Etudes Byzantines, LVII, 1999, pp. 168–169; this author quotes BHG 1764, dated in his opinion to the 8th century—in contrast to other scholars who move the time of the legend’s composition to the period after 934, ibid., p. 167, note 11), nevertheless, equestrian representations of the unbearded Theodore (Stratilates—sic!) fighting against the dragon, accompanied by a youth (usually identified by the inscription “Son of the widow”) appeared relatively late, first of all in a Coptic environment, and were undeniably based on the iconography of St. George. Moreover, themes unknown from the representations of St. George appear here: the figure of a widow raising her arms in a gesture of prayer and her son fastened to the tree, see O. Meinardus, op. cit., pp. 152–153, (fig. 8).
94 The thesis of the identity of three warriors in Eski-Kermena was made by E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit., p. 232, who also recognizes the figure of the rider as St. George.
95 T. Velmans, “La pittura parietale e le icone”, [in:] L’arte Bizantina in Grecia, ed. A. A. Novello, G. Dimitrokallis, Milano 1995, fig. on p. 192. An inscription from this church (now in the Archaeological Museum) requests reader to pray “for the forgiveness of the sins of your Servant Count Pedro”. It means that murals must by painted circa 1338–1350 (?) when Catalon Lord Pedro I Fadrique ruled over the island.
Another issue concerning the Crimean painting was its origin. One must agree with E. Ovčinnikova, that it is the work of a Byzantine workshop, which is confirmed by the presence of Greek inscriptions. However to date the painting to the 12th/13th century, as she does following O. Dombrovskij, seems to be too
96 Cf. E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit, p. 230; O. I. Dombrovskij, op. cit., p. 36. The Russian researcher supports his hypothesis by the date in the inscription, starting from the digits 12. He forgot, however, that Byzantines often measured time from the creation of the world, which was supposed to have happened on 25th of March 5508 B.C. Therefore, the 13th century corresponds with the “Byzantine” years of 6709–6809, which by no means permits the date he proposed. Also M. Golescu, op. cit., p. 128, agrees in dating the painting to the beginning of the 14th century, although she does not exclude the hypothesis that Theodore Tyron was depicted here.
In order to resolve the issue of the Eski-Kermena image of St. George it may be assumed that the artist, who limited the composition to its necessary elements by removing frames separating the two episodes, created a basis merging them into one composition. It is obvious that the Crimean painting should be treated only as an example of a certain tendency, which also could have occurred in other places and became the origin of a new formula: to present both miracles at the same time. This process was assisted by the ease with which the author could incorporate an inconspicuous theme of an “additional” hero into the story of the fight against the dragon.
The communities connected with Georgian art were then a cradle for this iconographic variant, since within them two popular legends merged into this unhistoric unity. From the beginning of the 15th century onwards this variant started to occur beside the “autonomous” one. A good example is a fresco in St. George's church in Plemenianá, western Crete, produced in 1409–
97 L. Kretzenbacher, Griechische Reiterheilige…, p. 27 alongside the date of 1409/10 gives another one—1449—based on older literature. But current knowledge allows us to reject this date. Recently M. Bissinger, op. cit., p. 207, opted for an earlier date, justifying his point by noting that both the way of modelling and the colours are similar to the style of the paintings from Sugia and Spelia (end of 14th century).
98 A. Orlandos, “Vyzantinoi kai metavyzantinoi naoi tis ‘Rodou’”, Archeion ton vizantinon mnimeion tis 'Ellados, IV, 1948, pp. 190–197, fig. 147; T. Raff, op. cit., p. 120, fig. on the insert after p. 116. He interprets the word “KORAI […]” as “KORAIOFOS”.
99 L. Kretzenbacher, Griechische Reiterheilige…, p. 28, fig. 3, on the basis of how the spear in St. George's hand is arranged, classifies this representation in the “autonomous” group. The researcher does not draw attention to the fact that the horse’s head droops, which implies that his legs are not raised up—as is typical for representations with the dragon. Static composition as an element typical for the iconography of the miracle with the boy was noted by N. Chatzidakis, “Saint George on Horseback ‘in Parade’. A Fifteenth Century Icon in the Benaki Museum”, [in:] Thimiama sti mnimi tis Laskrinas Mpoura, I, Athina 1994, p. 62.
100 The epithet was written in the form of “DIASORITIS” G. Sotereriou, Та vyzantina mnimeia tis Kyprou, III, 1935, fig. 103; and T. Raff, op. cit., pp. 117–120. An example of the “Syrian” type, painted at the same time in Cyprus but without the epithet Diasoritis, is a fresco in the Holy Cross church in Agiasmati near Platanistasa (1494), see A. Stylianou, J. Stylianou, The painted churches…, p. 206, fig. 119. In this case the latter describe the figure of the boy as “enigmatic” (sic!).
It seems to be the case that the regularity with which this epithet accompanies the saint raising the youth over the sea waves is not accidental, all the more so since other popular epithets like tropaioforos, nikaioforos (bringing victory) and megalomartys (great martyr) do not occur in this group of images. Current knowledge does not suffice to explain the significance of the inscriptions accompanying St. George rescuing the boy, and to what extent they are connected with St. George's church in Ortaköy or the monastery on Amorgos. On the other hand it is undeniable that the regularity of occurrence of the inscriptions surely bore a meaning which is not fully understood by the contemporary observer. The most probable explanation seems to be proposed by Raff who thinks that this term is taken from word diasozo—(to keep safe though, bring one well
101 T. Raff, op. cit., p. 120. This author also collects older literature on this subject on pp. 118–119. His hypothesis supports W. Braunfels and E. Kirschblaum, op. cit., col. 371, who translate the term as “rider”. On the other hand I. Spatharakis, op. cit., p. 321, note 20 and p. 336, note 214 comes back to the thesis of the toponymic character of this epithet, although the connects it rather with the monastery in Lydian Dios Hieron.
The process of disseminating the iconography of the miracle with the youth reached its apogee at the end of the 15th century, probably under the influence of the first Slavic translations of the legend. Simultaneously the type of images, which combined the two legends, started to occur in larger numbers than the “autonomous” type. The following two examples may illustrate this tendency: a fresco from 1493 in St. George's Orthodox church at the Bulgarian monastery in Kremikovci, with the dynamic depiction of St. George killing a
102 K. Paskaleva, C’rkvata sv. Georgi v Kremikovskija Monastyr, Sofia 1980, fig. 47. The city is identified with the Slavic inscription “LASA GRAD”, see J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 361.
103 E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit, p. 232, fig. 3.
An interesting example of limited composition with the representation of the dragon only (without the princess or city walls of Lasia) is a silver gilded plaque from the Georgian cross in Čhari, at that time belonging to the territory of the independent duchy of Samcche-Saatabago (now in the Museum of Georgian Art in Tbilisi). This cross from the turn of the 16th century is one of the roods popular in Georgia, which were placed in front of the altar.
According to the inscription this object was made by the master Mamne from the donation of Svimon and Basil
104 Š. J. Amiranašvili, Istorija gruzinskogo iskusstva, I, Moskva 1950, p. 257, fig. 170.
The literary source of two representations from northern Rus' (dated to the turn of the 16th century) also remains ambiguous. Both examples reject the tradition of illustrating the miracle with the youth through the equestrian representation of St. George. The first one—the Novgorod or Pskov icon from the end of the 15th century—is kept in the Pokrovskyj monastery at the Rogožskyj cemetery in Moscow. The second example is provided by the icon of a later date of origin from Ustiužna-on-Mologa, influenced by the Novgorod
105 J. Myslivec, op. cit., Table II, fig. 2; A. Rybakov, Ustiužna, Čerepovec, Vyterga, Leningrad 1981, p. 15, fig. on the insert after p. 32.
J. Myslivec is of the opinion that the Paphlagonian version—about the youth captured from the church in Phatris by Saracens—became the theme of this kind of scene, which illustrates the moment when the boy came back to the monastery where he had
106 J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 337.
107 E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 209, especially notes 93, also for bibliographical reference to the source literature.
108 E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit., p. 230.
It is highly probable that the iconographic type of a rider accompanied by a boy, existing in Georgia, Asia Minor, the Balkans and the Caucasus, was unfamiliar to the artists from northern Rus', who had to create their own formula to illustrate the legend. This thesis is strengthened by the fact that no equestrian representations of St. George the Warrior in the illustrations of this miracle can be assigned to the Russian artistic environment. This lack is clearly visible considering the popularity of the theme of St. George killing the dragon and the promotion of the cult of the warrior saint by Russian dukes—particularly Yurij
109 For information on the popularity of the representations of St. George and the dragon in fifteenth-century Novgorod see A. Jääskinen, “St. George the Victorious in the Medieval Art and Folk Tradition of Novgorod”, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensi. Figura, Nova Series XIX, 1981, pp. 333–344; about the cult received from the sovereigns with its origin in Kievan Rus see V. N. Lazarev, op. cit., pp. 85–88.
On the other hand the fact that the choice of episode from the legend was different from elsewhere could have been affected by the political situation in late fifteenth-century and early sixteenth-century Russia. This did not require George to be depicted as a saint defending Christians, contrary to other lands conquered by infidels. This view is also confirmed by the difference in illustrating the other legend, namely, the story about the miraculous liberation of a boy named Basil by St. Nicholas from Agarenian captivity. That story was modelled on the similar legend of St. George. In the art of northern
110 The legend similar to the “Mytilenian” version of the story of St. George is preserved in the 11th century manuscript Codex Vindobonensis Theologicus Graecus 148 from 1193. It describes the miraculous liberation of a Christian boy who was captured and taken to Crete. The boy was rescued whilst he was serving the Arab emir at a table. The text of the legend is published by G. Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos. Der heilige Nikolaos in der griechischen Kirche. Texts und Untersuchungen, I, Leipzig—Berlin 1913, pp. 188–195, although a similar version is also preserved in the earlier text Codex Parisinus Graec. Suppl. 1273 from the 11th century, ibid., pp. 273–275. This story was also known to Jacob of Voragine who mentioned it in his Golden Legend under the date of the 6th of December, see Jakub de Voragine, Złota legenda, transl. J. Plezia, introd. M. Plezia, Warszawa 1983, pp. 69–70 [= La Légende Doreé, le bien-heureux J. de Voragine, Paris 1902]. According to one of the versions mentioned by him the captive was named Adeodat and came from Normandy.
111 The icon from Ustiužna, dated to circa 1540 and produced in the same environment as one of the St. George representations, is similarly composed; see A. Rybakov, op. cit., p. 31, fig. on the insert.
112 The Russian painter undoubtedly used an older pattern that was known in Byzantine art at least since the 12th century. One can find an early example of this iconographic subject on the frame panel of the icon of St. Nicholas from Sinai monastery, cf. N. Patterson Ševčenko, “Close Encounters: Contact between Holy figures and the Faithful as represented in Byzantine Works of Art”, [in:] Byzance et les images, Paris 1994, p. 263.
113 N. V. Rozanova, Rostovo-Suzdalskaja živopis’ XII–XVI vekov, Moskva 1970, nos. 92, 97–98.
The variety of depictions of St. George rescuing the youth was used in the mid-16th century to compose several scenes arranged in narrative sequence. It was incorporated into an extended cycle of twenty-eight scenes of the martyrdom and miracles of St. George decorating the katholikon of the monastery in Voroneţ. The paintings made circa 1547 and donated by the Moldavian metropolitan Gregory Roşca cover both internal and external walls of the church which is dedicated to St. George. In one of the lunettes of the narthex, and on the neighbouring wall are four fields bordered with red lines where the legend of the miracle with the boy was
114 Cf. J. Myslivec, op. cit., Table IX, fig. 3, Table X, fig. 1.
The narration goes along the lower row of frescos from left to right. In the first field a ruler is shown near the left border. He wears a tall, open diadem (tympanion) on his head and sits on a throne with a footstool. A youth is standing in front of him in a long dress similar to a robe with slit sleeves and wearing a tall, pointed cap. He is giving a cup to the ruler. A guard with a sword on his shoulder is standing behind the throne. The architectural background with an overstylised exedra behind the throne suggests that the scene is happening in a palace. The arrangement of the composition resembles to a certain extent the scene from the side fields of the Suzdal icon with St. Nicholas of Zaraisk. Similarly, the episode takes place in the palace of the king, whose servant the boy is. But on the Moldavian fresco the rescuing saint is not present. It is difficult then to define the relationship between both works. Besides, the arrangement of a figure standing in front of the ruler is common in such art.
In contrast to the first scene, the second directly reflects one of the versions of the legend. In order to present George escaping with the boy the artist chose the “Syrian” approach with a patch of sea, in this case illustrated as semicircular waves. An interesting trick was used to suggest the continuity of narration. In the background, on the left bank of the sea and thus behind the saint's back, is a wall with a window. The wall is an extension of the palace walls, whereas rocky landscape fills out the right side of the composition. The willingness to emphasise the relationship between these scenes and to distinguish them from other themes must have driven the painter when he decided to maintain the proportion of figures within a scene and make the youth almost as tall as George. It is worth mentioning here that the painting from Voroneţ is the northernmost example of the “Syrian” iconographic variant.
The third scene was divided into two fields by the line of the corner between neighbouring walls. In the first of these two fields the saint is orientated to the right, i.e. towards the second part of the composition. He wears a red cloak and long white tunic, hemmed at the bottom with decorative trimming, and raises his right arm as if to present the boy standing in front of him and holding a cup. The wall in the background of the composition suggests that the events take place in a house. St. George's clothes and gesture show clearly that the artist used the pattern known from North Russian icons from the Ustiužna and Rogožskyj monasteries in Moscow. What is more, the author failed to avoid an inconsistency while compiling the story from two different sources, namely, that St. George who wore a breastplate in the previous scene is now shown without any attributes of knighthood.
The second part of the episode was depicted on the adjoining wall, where the artist showed the boy's parents standing behind a table laid for a festivity and three other figures, presumably the parents' guests. The artist referred here to the oldest Georgian iconographic formula, where St. George miraculously appears in the boy's home during the sad banquet. It does not mean, however, that he had to model his work on the oldest examples—the iconographic theme of banqueters sitting at the table appears on the fourteenth-century icon from Ubisi and on other later Georgian
115 T. Velmans, A. Alpago, L. Novello, Mirror de l’invisible. Peintures murales et architecture de la Géorgie, Milano 1996, p. 119, mention examples of the scene of the boy’s rescue from frescoes in Georgian churches in Ači (13th century), Kalendžiča (14th century) and Ubisi (14th century). E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 210, among the examples of a late redaction with a group of banqueters, the author enumerates also miniatures from the manuscripts collected in the Institute of the Georgian Academy of Science under the numbers: A-454 (18th century) fol. 41r, H-2904 (18th century) fol. 63v and S-2842 (19th century) fol. 38v.
116 J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 341; his identification is also accepted by M. Golescu, op. cit., p. 130.
117 J. Myslivec, op. cit, pp. 346–348.
In the foreground of the composition stands St. George while a group of people sits at the table; a woman is raising her hand towards the boy who is standing next to her. This scene is provided with the inscription at the top “o agios eletheronei tis chyras tón yión (the saint liberates widow's
118 Les icones dans les collections suisses, introd. M. Chatzidakis and V. Djurić, Geneve 1968, nr 135. The icon is described: “O AGIOS GEORGIOS”. Below the horse there is a Greek inscription: “made by Charlamp son of John […] on 13th April to save the soul of John, the servant of God, and Sotira, his wife”.
119 E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 209.
The iconographic solutions employed by the Voroneţ master are not likely to be found in the art of the 16th century. At that time they were being replaced by the representation referring to the legend of the rescued princess, which became a dominant variant and almost superseded the others. The youth accompanying George might appear both in more complex scenes with the princess Alexandra and the city walls, where her parents were observing the fight, and in the limited variant depicting only St. George fighting against the dragon. The former solution is found in the frescoes from the Orthodox church Panagia Koumbeliki in Kastoria (15th–16th centuries) and the work from the Moldavian St. George's church in Hîrlau (1530), where George is attacking the speared
120 In Romanian painting a figure of the devil appears from the dragon’s muzzle. J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 362, Table XVI.
121 E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit, pp. 228, 234, fig. 1.
122 Icônes Melkites…, p. 236, fig. 97. On the icon there is a following inscription: “Stephan, servant of God, offers prayers”, a not the Signature by the hand of Jeremy.
123 Vyzantini kai metavizantini techni stin Kerkyra, Kerkyra 1994, fig. 98.
Examples of the latter variant without the princess and city walls are provided by the icon in the Antivouniotissa Museum on
124 Ibid., fig. 94; Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, ed. M. Acheimastou-Potamianou, Th. Liva-Xanthaki, Athens 1986, p. 128, fig. 131; the remains of the inscription “O G[EO]R[GIOS]” are hardly visible.
125 D. Talbot Rice, “The Accompanied Saint George…”, fig. 1.
126 G. Sotiriou, Guide du Musée Byzantin d’Athènes, Athènes 1955, p. 20; inscription “'O 'AGIOs GEORGIO TROPEOFOROS” is placed near the saint’s head.
127 P. Huber, Athos. Leben, Glaube, Kunst, Zürich 1969, fig. 167.
128 Treasures of Mount Athos, ed. Th. Xanthaki, D. A. Hardy, Thessaloniki 1997, pp. 589–590, figs. 2, 113.
Paradoxically, in spite of the popularisation of the text of the legend in the 16th century, the process of transition from the “historical” theme of the miracle with the youth into the image of the accompanied St. George killing the dragon strengthened. The Damaskinos neo-Greek edition of the versions with “Leon's son” and “the son of the widow of
129 Damaskenos, Thesauros, Venezia 1528, repr. Thessaloniki 1971, pp. 216 and ff.
Among late examples of the “autonomous” representation of the legend is the fresco in the trapeza in the Athos Dionisiou monastery dated to
130 G. Millet, Monuments de L'athos, I, Paris 1927, figs. 211, 3; and P. Huber, op. cit, fig. 211.
131 The motif of a tall cross (crux hastata) used as a weapon, with the help of which the holy rider fights evil symbolised by a dragon or a female demon—Lilith/Gyllou, is known in Byzantine iconography at least from the 7th century, among others from amulets and paintings in Bawit, see M. Mango, A silver plate with a holy rider, unpublished 1987; Ch. Walter, “The intaglio of Solomon in the Benaki Museum and the origins of the iconography of warrior saints”, Deltion tis Christianikis Archaologikis Etaireias, series 4, XV (1989–1990), pp. 33–42.
132 Quot. foll. J. Myslivec, op. cit, p. 362.
An Armenian miniature with a single theme of St. George and the youth was also painted in the 17th century. One dubious element is the face of St. George, unusually shown with a beard and moustache. The saint is holding a lance to which is fastened a pennant with a red cross on a white background—probably a reflection of crusader art. Below a horse, on a flowery meadow are two figures kneeling, probably the donors of the icon or the boy's
133 Les icones dans les collections suisses…, no. 8. The author of the catalogue note names the youth as George, probably having recognised the kneeling persons as Leon and Theophano.
Examples of the “pure” representation of the legend can be found in the 17th century in the Sinai communities, hermetic at that time. Two icons of folk art style from St. Catherine's Monastery, not precisely dated to the late 17th or even 18th century, represent St. George accompanied by the youth riding over the sea waves and swimming fishes. In contrast the examples from Cyprus represent various iconographic
134 D. R. Howell, op. cit., p. 41, figs. 1, 2.
135 A. Papageorgiou, op. cit., p. 146, fig. 98, dates this work to the first half of the 16th century. The inscription on the icon: “O PERIVOLIATIS” (orchard, gardener) refers to the person of St. George.
136 D. Talbot Rice, The Icons of Cyprus…, p. 239, Table 33, fig. 81; exact dating is possible thanks to the preserved inscription “ACHTH.CHY”. Talbot Rice recognises fish below the horse’s hooves as snakes and on that basis links this icon to the group of representations with the dragon.
137 Ibid., p. 240, Table 33, fig. 83.
138 Fine Icons, the catalogue of the auction house Sotheby from Monday, 3rd of December 1979, fig. 33.
An interesting example of the updated theme comes from the Georgian environment of the 17th and 18th centuries, where both “autonomous” compositions and those combining the motif of the saint's young companion with the fight against the
139 E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 219 provides more examples. Apart from the earlier paintings from the churches in Nikorcmiida and Nakuraleszi (15th century), she mentions the fresco from the village of Czukuli in Svanetia (dated to the turn of 16th and 17th centuries) and two scenes depicted on the southern wall of the exonarthex of the Orthodox church in Calenjikha. An example of a representation of the “double” legend is the seventeenth-century plate form Čhari founded by the Tzaritza Mary; see G. N. Čubinšvili, op. cit., fig. 571.
140 The inscription is not precisely quoted by J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 362, who dates the icon to 1657. E. L. Privalova, “Hudožestvennoe rešene…”, p. 211, gives the date of 1651 and quotes the inscription in the original version and its Russian translation.
While the “autonomous” representations of the legend were still found on Sinai, Cyprus and in Georgia, in the case of Greece most compositions merge the story of the miracle with the youth and the fight against the dragon. This theme remained popular in the 17th century in the iconography of the Greek islands, particularly in the Cretan
141 A late example from the Dodecanese is provided by an icon now housed in Patmos (mid-18th century), see M. Chatzidakis, Eikones tis Patmou, Athinai 1977, p. 182, figs. 198, 199. The Italian-Cretan trend in iconography is represented by an icon painted in 1649 by the hierodiacon Joseph, now in the Museum of Art and History in Geneva: Les icones du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Geneve, ed. M. Lazović, S. Frigerio-Zeniou, Geneve 1985, no. 29; see also N. P. Kondakov, op. cit, vol. II, fig. 135. The constant presence of the theme in Cretan painting is confirmed by an icon painted by Anghelos (the end of 15th century) and another icon, kept in the Museum of the Greek Institute in Venice; see M. Chatzidakis, Icônes de Saint-Georges des Grecs et de la collection de l’Institut Hellénique de Venise, Venise 1962, pp. 27–28 and 119, fig. 58.
142 Les icones dans les collections suisses…, no. 46. The motif of a cave from which the monster creeps out appears also in autonomous representations of the fight against the dragon. But it is clearly visible that the crack on the other Greek icon from the end of the 17th century, currently stored in the Museum of Orthodox Church at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade (cat. no. S-4779), is filled out with blue colour, which shows that the author’s intention was to paint a patch of sea.
143 M. Golescu, op. cit., p. 128; J. B. Aufhauser, “Das Drachenwunder…”, Table 5.
144 Examples of such icons can be found in the Munich collection of Ilias Neufert, see Ikonen 13. bis 19. Jahrhundert, ed. H. Skrobucha, München 1969, no. 51; E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit, fig. 5; in the Beirut collection of Henri Pharaon (inscription “O A[GIOS] GEORGIOS”), see Icônes Melkites…, p. 237, fig. 101, among the icons collected by Siegfried Amberg-Herzog, see Les icones dans les collections suisses…, no. 69: this icon comes from northern Greece and was produced in the 1730s. However, W. Felicetti-Liebenfels, Geschichte der byzantinischen Ikonenmalerei, Olten-Lusagne 1956, p. 95, fig. 124, identifies it as a work from the Greek islands and dates it to circa 1500; D. Wild, op. cit., fig. 9; in the Museum of Art in Bucharest (inscription “GEORGIOS”), see De la Matei Basarab la Konstantin Brîncoveanu. Arta secolului al. XVII-lea. Muzeul Naţional de Artǎ, ed. A. Daobjanschi, O. Iancovescu, Bucureşti 1992, p. 31, no. 12, and C. Nicolescu, Rumänische Ikonen, Berlin 1976, p. 48, fig. 48 (both publications attribute the icon to the workshop of a Wallachian master influenced by a Greek painting); in the Hermitage collection of N. P. Lichačev, see E. S. Ovčinnikova, op. cit., fig. 4; in the collection of Georgios Tsakyroglos (four icons, one of them from mid-17th century, three dated to the end of the 17th century), see A. Karakatsani, Eikones. Syllogi Georgiou Toakyroglou, Athina 1980, p. 40 and fig. 46, p. 116 and fig. 146, p. 123 and fig. 169, and p. 124 and fig. 173; and in the Roger Cabal Collection (an icon from the end of the 17th century, unpublished so far, dimensions 43,5×28 cm).
145 Les icones dans les collections suisses…, no. 128. Inscription: “O AGIOS GEORGIOS О THAYMATOYRGOS”, and signature “CHEIR IOANNOY IEREOS TOU SIMENOU”.
As in Greece, the tendency to incorporate the theme of a boy accompanying St. George into the scene of the fight against the dragon prevailed in other national Balkan schools active during the Turkish occupation. Among the examples coming from Romanian duchies—and even from Transylvania, where the text of the legend often appeared in the seventeenth-century Synaxarions—are icons in the Municipal Museum in Oradea and from Cotroceni (now in the Museum of Sacral Art in Bucharest), as well as the silver binding of a gospel book given to St. George's Orthodox Church in Bucharest by Constantine Brincoveanu in
146 M. Golescu, op. cit., p. 131, fig. 1; J. Myslivec, op. cit., p. 349.
147 A. Boschkov, Die Bulgarische Malerei von den Anfängen bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Recklinghausen 1969, fig. 163.
148 Idem, B’lgarskata ikona, Sofia 1984, p. 247, fig. 149.
149 Ibid., p. 243, fig. 145.
In the 18th century the iconographic theme of a youth behind St. George fighting against a dragon occurred in Coptic paintings, supposedly under the influence of Armenian artists. An icon of the year 1752/53, associated with the Armenian Diaspora in Cairo, may provide a good example. Apart from the saint accompanied by the boy, the princess, city walls and the dragon were shown on this icon. The work of the painter Eustachios—a nineteenth-century icon in the Coptic Church of the Holy Virgin in Hârat ar-
150 Two examples, unknown to D. Talbot Rice, “The Accompanied Saint George…”, p. 386, are provided by O. Meinardus, op. cit., p. 151, both icons are illustrated on the insert. On the first icon at the top there are two inscriptions: Greek “O AGIOS GEORGIOS PIMALITON” and Arabic “My master, the king Marî-Ğirğis al-Malatî. Painting by unworthy Ibrahîm and Yűhann the Armenian, in the year of 1469 ”, while the second icon has only an Arabic description: “Icon of the great martyr Marî-Ğirğis. Made by Astâsî [Eustachios] ar-Rűmî al-Qudsî, the painter. Remember, Lord, protect your servant, the unworthy priest Bakhűm [Pakhomius] and reward him for his hardship and admit him to the heavenly kingdom. 1555 [1838/9]”. Meinardus does not reject the possibility that in Coptic art St. George is accompanied by his servant instead of the rescued boy.
A group of late images of St. George with a youth and a dragon was created in the Balkans, undeniably driven by the national movement of liberation directed against the Ottoman
151 E.g. the seal of the Monastery of St. George the Galatian from 1836, see M. Golescu, op. cit., figs. 2, 3.
152 A. Boschkov, Die bulgarische Ikone, Berlin 1986, nr 16; also his B’lgarska ikona..., fig. 380.
153 Ikonen 13. bis 19. Jahrhundert..., no. 384.
Balkan printing workshops of the 19th century using the theme of St. George in their works played an important role in its popularisation
154 E.g. the woodcut by Nikola S. Kilnikov from circa 1850, the engraving and plate, kept in the Monastery of Simonopetra on the Mount Athos, from circa 1858, see Treasures of Mount Athos…, fig. 4.13. Numerous examples of Bulgarian prints are published by E. Tomov, B’lgarski v’zroženski štampi, Sofia 1975, figs. 116, 167, 211 and 219.
155 Icônes Melkites…, p. 200, fig. 58.
156 One of the icons is kept in Saida in the Orthodox Assembly of the Saviour, the second in the Beirut collection of Ivan Stchouthine; ibid., pp. 217, 219, figs. 87, 92. In the background of one of them is a port with sailing ships calling at it. Maybe it is neither a genre theme, nor the representation of the port in Beirut (as the author of the catalogue suggests), but a reference to an older iconographic type, as in the case of Greek icons.
It seems, however, that during the process of combining the miracle with the youth and the legend of the princess, the figure of the boy was losing its original meaning, derived from the text of the legend. Simultaneously it acquired a new meaning, becoming the saint's attribute. This process can also be observed in images of St. Demetrius with Cyprianos, the bishop of Thenai (currently: Henchir Tina in Tunisia), later linked to the story of the miraculous healing of Tsar
157 For the iconography of the theme see N. Theotoka “O eikonografikos typos tou 'Agiou Dimitriou stratiotikou kai ef hippou kai oi schetikes paradoseis ton thaumaton”, [in:] Pepragmena tou IX Diethnous Vyzantinologikou Synedriou (Thessaloniki 12–19 Aprilou 1953), I, Athina 1955, pp. 477–88, fig. 162, 2; and Ch. Walter, “St. Demetrius: The Myroblytos of Thessalonika”, Eastern Churches Review, V, 1973, p. 157–178, especially 177, fig. 15.
158 A. Karakatsani, op. cit, p. 124, fig. 174.
159 This iconographic variant also became popular in 19th century graphics, see E. Tomov, op. cit., figs. 255, 316–318. The same composition one can find e.g. on the exterior fresco in catholicohn of Vatopaidi monastery of Mount Athos (18th century).
* * *
To summarise the findings one can try to reconstruct the iconographic changes of the manner in which three versions of the legend of rescuing the youth from captivity were represented in art. The legend was depicted in the 11th century as a complex narrative scene in Georgian art. The key motif of the boy accompanying St. George occurred as a direct result of the interpretation of the text of On the son of Leon version, which was a literary source for painters. As opposed to D. Talbot Rice's view, this theme was not a borrowing from the iconography of the Iranian Bahrâin
160 D. Talbot Rice, “The Accompanied Saint George…”, p. 387; this thesis is already refuted by D. R. Howell, op. cit., p. 45, as he points to the fact that until the 16th century a camel appeared in the Persian representations of Bahram Gur instead of a horse.
One hundred years later a new variant of the theme was created in the Crusader countries. The boy's parents were not represented, but the patch of a sea with fish was introduced. If the inscription (dated four hundred years later) in the trapeza of the Dionisiou Monastery of Athos is to assist understanding of this theme, it can be concluded that the Syrian artists replaced the story of On the son of Leon with the “Mytilenian” version.
In the 14th century, thanks to their compositional similarity, the theme of the boy was merged together with the illustration of the story of the fight against the dragon and soon became the only manner in which the legend was represented in the Balkans and Asia Minor. On the other hand, in Georgia and the Levant, the “autonomous” types continued to exist beside the “combined” one for a long time. They were gradually replaced, partly due to the influence of graphics.
Interestingly it seems that representation of the legend was not customary in the Byzantine Empire, since no examples from there are preserved. A similar mechanism presumably worked in Rus', where a quite different formula of depicting St. George with the youth rescued by him was developed. Georgia remains a specific region, a cradle for the iconographic theme, and at the same time the only independent Orthodox country where this theme enjoyed such popularity. This fact may be explained by the constant threat of its Muslim neighbours. On the other hand, the subject under consideration was not popular in all Orthodox regions subjected to other religions. For example, we have no examples from those parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth inhabited by Orthodox Christians (Belorussia, Ukraine).
Finally it should be mentioned that, despite the popularity of the image of St. George rescuing the youth among Crusaders, it did not spread in the art of the Western Europe and was confined to the art of the Eastern Churches.