This is entry #36 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Katerina Deligiorgi (University of Sussex)
Artwork: “Countryside of Wood with St. George Fighting the Dragon”, Albrecht Altdorfer, 1510, Oil on parchment attached to a limewood panel, 28.2cm x 22.5cm
Words: There is a way out of the encircling woods, but the vertiginously compressed perspective pushes it out of sight; the path is blocked by a dragon. The dragon looks unthreatening, except to the horse, who is starting to rear, head held unnaturally low, eyes fixing the dragon. St George looks up, his sword-bearing arm hanging wearily by his side. The plumes on his helmet swirl frond-like as the forest reclaims the knight.
Most other depictions of the topic strike me as vacuously heroic. Altdorfer’s shows the need for courage, without guaranteeing, the saint’s emergence from this immense, vital landscape.