Statue of St. George and the Dragon, State Library of Victoria


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Statue of St. George and the Dragon, State Library of Victoria


bronze, Centennial International Exhibition, chivalric tradition, crusades, dragon, exhibition, Golden Legend, hagiography, international exhibition, Jacobus de Voragine, knight, legend, Melbourne, mythology, sculpture, Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-1890), spear, Speculum Historiale, St George, Saint George, St George and the Dragon sculpture, State Library of Victoria, statue, sword, Victoria, Vincent of Beauvais (c.1190-1264)


Image of the St George and the Dragon bronze statue at the entrance to the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. The statue is the work of Viennese-born sculptor Joseph Edgar Boehm. It was purchased by the State Library of Victoria for the sum of £1000 following the Centennial International Exhibition in 1888, and was installed at the entrance to the library in 1889. With the exception of some repositioning to accommodate Frémiet’s Jeanne d’Arc statue in 1907, this is where it still stands. The Boehm statue depicts St George, sitting astride his horse wearing a cape and a helmet bearing the distinctive St George cross, in the action of inflicting the dragon’s deathblow by means of a large spear. The legend of St George slaying the dragon is Eastern in origin. It is thought to have been brought back to England by crusaders and was popularised and incorporated into hagiographies of St George in the medieval period in works such as Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum Historiale and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (c.1260). As with most early Australian images of St George and the Dragon, the statue features the knight and dragon fused in combat, and there is no sign of the maiden who was being saved in the original tale.

For more on the St George legend in Australia, see Andrew Lynch, “‘Thingless names’? The St George Legend in Australia”, The La Trobe Journal, vol.81, Autumn 2008, pp.40-52:


Lynch, Andrew


9 September 2004


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