How Saint George’s Dragon Got Its Wings
A Westernizing movement began around the 1700s. Part and parcel with the Byzantine tradition came icon painting.
As time went on, the dragons in Russian icons slowly became more Western in style, a predictable mirror of how Russia slowly accepted a European cultural influence.
The icon follows the standard layout, and the snakelike dragon is very clearly Asiatic.
The body is still snakelike overall, but the addition of wings could be seen to suggest the beginnings of a burgeoning Western influence.
This icon is from the first half of the 1400s, returning to the earlier tradition.
This icon dates from the 1500s and shows many of the changes that were appearing in icons as the European Renaissance emphasized realism and perspective in art.
The artists invited into Russia were those taught in the European schools.
Russia’s closeness with Europe changed its cultural consciousness, even in such minor aspects as the way an artist pictured a fantasy creature.
The lack of living dragons has never stopped people from drawing them.