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The story behind our St George and the Dragon Puzzle

The George in the legend of St. George is said to be a Roman soldier who lived in third-century Cappadocia, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Turkey, known for its cave-cities and hot-air balloon festivals. 

Project Britain has a fun re-telling of the legend of St. George and the Dragon  with cute photos (the story starts a little ways down the page) - if you're a Tolkein fan the knight's strategy may sound familiar!

St. George and the Dragon is a popular subject for a medieval painting, not as popular as your classic Madonna-and-Child, but probably a bit more popular than the beheading of St John the Baptist. 

Our St. George and the Dragon puzzle  is a 15th century painting with rich details - all the more surprising when you find out the actual painting is tiny - about the size of a postcard!  

The painting is by, well, uh, maybe famous Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden. The thing is it's hard to track provenance back to the 15th century. 

The story (our telling is crisper) is that the painting somehow made its way from Belgium to Russia, and is thought to have been held by the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia. Around 1900 an art-loving Russian General in St. Petersburg (also, incidentally, one of the best tourist destinations in Russia) picked it up in a second-hand shop for 90 rubles (I have no idea what the exchange rate was, but 90 rubles sure doesn't sound like a lot)

The General retired to Nice, the Capital of the French Riveria (and another great place to visit), and since it was so tiny, brought this gorgeous little painting with them.  But the Russian Revolution re-distributed said General's Russian properties away, and suddenly they needed to sell off the good stuff they'd brought with them.  

This, eventually, led to the painting going up for auction at Sotheby's in 1966. Sothebys' experts decided it was by Rogier van der Weyden, and sold it for a mint to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., where it currently is not on exhibition. So really, your best bet to enjoy this great artwork is to get our beautiful puzzle of it :).

The puzzle has charming medieval-styled connectors (and some themed whimsies) by puzzle designer Jef Bambas - here's a piece photo:

For even more details about this painting and its history, see the EliotsOfPortEliot page.



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