Pain Felt For the Dragon

The image is of the painting SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON (c. 1470) by Paolo Uccello. Oil on canvas.

My parents had a print of this hanging in the dining room of the house we lived in for eighteen months when I was seven to eight years old. The image disturbed me deeply at the time (and still does) because I thought the dragon in the picture seemed innocent and passive, undeserving of having its eye and brain gored through by the knight. At that time, I shared how upset I felt for the dragon to my then step/foster mother, who my father never married but cohabitated with for fifteen years.

9 thoughts on “Pain Felt For the Dragon

  1. I’m curious how your step/foster mother reacted to your concern and imagine how seeing the painting day after day might reinforce those feelings. I have a hard time viewing anything violent, whether it be on the screen, in a painting, or in real life. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You’re welcome.

      My former step/foster mother reacted sympathetically and was moved to the point that, on at least one occasion in that same house, she told some guests what I had said to her about feeling bad for the dragon in the picture. However, she did not take down the picture, until we moved and she never put it up again– to my recollection…though she may have hung it up in the bathroom of the house we lived in from when I was 11-16, but I’m really not sure. Human memory is tricky, sometimes conflating different places and images into one context instead of the actual two or more.

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      1. “Human memory is tricky is so true! As I get older, I need to recheck a memory with my son to see if I’ve got it right. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes, he has a whole different version. This causes many debates on who’s right or who isn’t. I love how your writing makes me think a little differently, but mostly like the pictures that I see in my mind from the words you so eloquently convey. Thank you!

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  2. Ugh. WTF? Sorry, but in the dining room? Really? Even if it is “fine art.” It would have disturbed (understatement) any sensitive child! Egads.
    My empath is going strong. My parents (well, my Dad) had hunting prints…lots of dogs and men and dead birds. Gratefully other prints of alive, flying birds too, but those next to real shot guns. And, lol, all that balanced by some ballerinas and Jesuses on the cross. 😳😱🤪😂

    Although I had early and bloody introductions to saints, thankfully most of them weren’t illustrated, or if they were, they weren’t by particularly talented artists, and I saw them from the back of a classroom! My first introduction to St. George and the Dragon was via Cambridge Christmas Revels version of a British pantomime. Wildly funny…technically good vs. evil, but nobody died, there was cross-dressing, and the dragon was fluffy and neon pink and green.

    I understand looking at art like this in books, galleries, and museums, but I cannot fathom why people desire to see it in their homes! Charlie hung a series of six largish, rare Chinese prints over the sofa in our living room (a gift from his mom and Teddy, her 2nd h). I hated them…the worst one showed all these people drowning in a flood!!! (I was bummed when the person shot at our house the bullets went through just below that one 🤨).
    Argh I’ll stop now…won’t mention the shipwrecks…

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    1. I appreciate your empathic response here and your sharing about your own personal experiences with violent imagery in your home. While I do continue to feel some indignation for my young boy part who endured having to see such violent imagery on a daily basis for 18 mos., I also find myself developing more compassion for each of my then young, clueless parents who, at the time, seemed to not know any better. I think they eventually learned, because, fortunately, (I *think*) they did not re-hang that picture in other places we moved to. By the time my younger (half) sister came along– and even before– they appeared to have grown noticeably more sensitive to what imagery they hung on the walls of our home(s). (We moved several times).

      My folks also grew more sensitive to protecting me and my sister from overly-intense movies (namely ones with violent imagery; I did not feel overly exposed to movies with sexual imagery and they were more vigilant with those), after having let a handful of some be viewed by me in their company. Whether it be pictures on walls or movies, my folks got better at screening out violent imagery from me and my sister. Better late than never.

      As Maya Angelou has succinctly, beautifully said, “When we know better, we do better.” At least, that is very often the case, if not always.

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    2. Love your sense of humor! My son reminded me of the sad clown painting, crying girls pictures, and creepy masks I had up on the walls in my house. I suppose I over-identified with the feelings they portrayed. I mostly found them endearing.

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