Saint George from the Artus Manor House
Following the Gothic route in Gdansk, one cannot just pass by and not visit the Artus Manor House near the Long Market. Fans of its style are sure to appreciate the sculpture located on the northern wall of the great hall.
It is the so-called Group of Saint George, sculpted in wood and decorated with polychrome staining. Estimated to have been created in the late 15th century, it is considered to be one of the greatest of its kind to have ever been sculpted in the Baltic area at the time. What does the “group” depict, you ask?
It depicts Saint George battling a dragon at the foot of a mountain which houses a city with a castle. Its walls and numerous towers lend it a sense of security. To preserve it, George must defeat the beast and, as a result, save the pure lady who is kneeling in the corner, her hands clasped in prayer. And so, the young man of impeccable beauty and accompanied by a similarly beautiful entourage must battle to the death*.
The knight’s face is unrealistically beautiful, one could even say it is feminine. His armour is richly decorated, and his purple scarf flows freely in the wind. The knight’s sabatons are also worth noting – they are crafted in the poulaines or cracoves style. As was the fashion at the time, their tips are so long that it would be difficult to walk in them. Looks are everything after all, are they not? The sculpture depicts the fight between good and evil, and looks as if it was staged, to be photographed and put on a magazine cover.
When it comes to art dating back to the Middle Ages, i.e. the Gothic era, it is usually impossible to tell who the creator was. Well, unless we are talking about the famous Parlers of Prague. In this case, however, we could venture a guess as to the identity of the sculptor. The St. George Group from the Artus Manor House was sculpted in the 1480s. That is also the time when Hans Brandt, the creator of the St. Adalbert Cenotaph located in Gniezno, visited Gdansk. The Gdansk archives mention that he was indeed here in 1485, participating in the construction of the Main City Church. Could he have sculpted this magnificent piece? We think so.
* The rest of the story can be found in Jacobus da Varagine’s Golden Legend.