Thank you to Joy of Museums for the following article discussing this beautiful St. George icon.
Black Saint George Icon
This icon of Saint George has become known as ‘The Black George’ because the horse is painted black rather than the white horse that has traditionally been used for St George Icons. Russia converted to Christianity in 988, and much of its religious art was inspired by the Byzantine tradition. This icon made in 1400 was discovered in 1959 in a village in northern Russia where it was being used as a window-shutter.
The Black George icon depicts Saint George and the Dragon which legends describe the saint slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices and thereby rescuing the princess chosen as the next offering. Some icons depicting the saint as a horseman killing the dragon date to the 12th century. The motif became popular especially in Greek, Georgian and Russian icon traditions. The saint is depicted in the style of a Roman cavalryman, and the saint is mostly shown on a white horse, facing right, but sometimes also on a black horse, or facing left. From its Eastern origins, it was introduced into the Western Christian tradition by the Crusades.
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