Although Giorgio Vasari left this early Renaissance painter out of his Lives, Carlo Crivelli’s work and career are seeing a revival during an exhibition in Boston.
Born circa 1430 and known for his conservative Late Gothic decorative style, Italian painter Carlo Crivelli (1430-1494) has earned his first monographic exhibition in the United States, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. A touchstone of the exhibition is the recently conserved “Saint George Slaying the Dragon,” circa 1470, a dramatic image charged with excitement. The museum states, “Although the artist worked for more than thirty years after painting it, he never produced anything quite so full of vigor and imagination. What could be more dramatic than the contrast between the rearing horse, its head distorted with fear, and the tender saint, his eyes fixed on the dragon he is about to slaughter?”
Imaged within a large vertical format, bold forms, saturated color, and innovative compositional strategies characterize “Saint George Slaying the Dragon.” A large gray horse rears up at the center of the composition, twisting his head to the right of the panel in profile. The pained and fearful expression on the horse’s face is contrasted with the calm, confident poise of the Saint, who raises his sword above his head in preparation for one final downward thrust. The dragon, dwarfed by the magnificent horse, also stands on its hind legs, a spear projecting from its mouth and neck. In the distance we find a city amongst the hills and rocks, with a tiny, kneeling princess to the left.
The painting was, in fact, part of a much larger altarpiece painted for the parish church of Porta San Giorgio, the surviving panels of which are also included in the exhibition. The second part of the exhibition features 20 of Crivelli’s most important works from both the United States and Europe.
“Ornament and Illusion: Carlo Crivelli of Venice” opens on October 22 and will be on view through January 25.
To learn more, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

Previous articleSouthern Light
Next articleMasterworks from the Middle
Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here