Collectors of Smith-Harrison's early work will recognize
St. George as a detail of his 1988 print, Cathedral Church of St. Mark.
Commissioned by a parishioner of St. Mark's in Salt Lake City, Utah,
that edition has been unavailable for some time. St. George was a detail
in the lower center of the print.
Smith-Harrison says that the robustness of the figure
of St. George first drew him to this window. Having performed the feat
for which he is widely known, St. George stands triumphant, strong,
stepping out of the coils of the vanquished dragon. St George, an early
Christian martyr, is the patron saint of boy scouts, the kingdom of
England and a protector of women.
The tall, narrow dimension of the image area and the brightness
of the fields that describe the figure both glorify and restrain the
form of the St. George. The human figure, rare in Smith-Harrison's recent
work, is rendered dimensionally in contrast to the decorative architectural
elements of the window, which are represented as planar.
As the first of a projected series of small prints based
on stained glass windows, Smith-Harrison hopes to deepen and broaden
his conversation on the artistic intent of the architect. Elements that
have been added to this print, the long narrow border with its lance
tips and the Ottoman-style ornament at the bottom of the print, are
relevant to the ironies and paradoxes that exist both in the story of
St. George and in the decorative impulses of the gilded age. Facts about
St George are few and his feast day was made optional by reforms in
the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. He remains, however an important
figure in the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox religious and cultural traditions.
The secular milieu from which the turn-of-the-century art glass movement
arose drew heavily on elements as disparate as Orientalia and Anglophilia
The Cathedral Church of St. Mark houses a number of artistically
and historically important stained glass windows, designed by Louis
Comfort Tiffany and Charles Connick. St. George was one of a set of
Tiffany windows that were some of the first installed west of the Mississippi.
The Cathedral Church of St. Mark maintains an interest in supporting
the arts through commissioning elements of its church ornaments.