The Story of St. George and the Dragon: The Skulls Brought to the King

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1861-1862


◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 111-115.

◦ Marsh, DGR: Painter and Poet, 233-239

◦ Sewter, Stained Glass, 66-68.

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 1, 85-86 (no. 145, plate 212).

◦ Wildman, Visions of Love and Life, 202-213.

Scholarly Commentary


This is the first of the series of six designs that DGR made for a set of stained glass windows to be manufactured by “The Firm”, that is to say, the partnership of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. founded in April 1861. DGR's letter to Allingham of 20 January 1861 reports on the plan for the company: “We are organizing (but this is quite under the rose as yet) a company for the production of furniture and decoration of all kinds for the sale of which we are going to open an actual shop! The men concerned are Madox Brown, Jones, Topsy, Webb (the architect of T[opsy].'s house), P. P. Marshall, Faulkner and myself. Each of us is now producing at his own charges one or two (and some of us more) things towards the stock” ( Fredeman, Correspondence, 61. 5 . These six remarkable designs were among DGR's principal contributions to The Firm in his years of active participation (1861-1864). In all he made some thirty-six stained glass designs as well as designs for furniture and other house and church decorative objects.

Besides this design, the five that followed it in the series were: The Story of St. George and the Dragon: The Princess Sabra Drawing the Lot; The Story of St. George and the Dragon: The Princess Sabra Taken to the Dragon; The Story of St. George and the Dragon: St. George and the Dragon; The Story of St. George and the Dragon: The Return of the Princess; The Story of St. George and the Dragon: The Wedding of St. George. DGR also made a watercolour drawing that was not part of the series, St. George and the Princess Sabra . Also, in 1868 he made a watercolour over an india ink drawing of the second panel in the series, and in 1864 he made a separate watercolour of The Wedding of St. George for R. H. Williams.

Production History

This set of six designs were made sometime in 1861-1862. Jan Marsh judges that Charles Hastings took the series for his house in Yorkshire, the commision coming in February 1863. But Sewter (96 n.27) says that “The purpose for which these panels were made is not known”. The panels were bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum by J. R. Holliday. The original designs are in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery.


It has been suggested that DGR's principal source for his designs was the ballad “St. George and the Dragon”, in Percy's Reliques. But this is unlikely since the incidents depicted in the first two designs do not make a part of that work's narrative. It is probable, rather, that DGR turned to one of his favorite source texts for legendary materials, Jacobus de Voragine's The Golden Legend. Spenser's translation of the story in The Faerie Queene Book I Cantos xi-xii is pertinent strictly as a contrast to DGR's work.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s145.raw.xml