Saint Mario Killing the Dragon

Today’s art appreciation lesson comes to us courtesy of artist Butt Johnson, whose “Mario, Patron Saint of Brooklyn” puts a videogame spin on the iconography of Christian martyr and dragon slayer Saint George.

England’s patron saint rose to legendary status thanks to Jacobus de Voragine The Golden Legend, a collection of fanciful saint-centric stories that tore up the medieval book charts. According to Voragine, there was once a dragon who had set up camp at the entrance to a spring, the only source of water for the nearby city of Silene. Consequently, the citizenry hosted a monthly lottery to select a maiden, who they would then feed to the dragon, luring it away long enough to gather water. One day it’s the princess who draws the short stick, and despite the king’s protestations, she’s promptly offered up as lizard lunch. Lucky for her, Saint George happens by, slays the dragon and saves the girl. The citizens of Silene are so grateful they abandon their ancestral paganism and start counting the rosary.

So yeah, basically the exact same plot as the original Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Butt Johnson | Mario, Patron Saint of Brooklyn | 2005 | 14 x 17 inches | Ballpoint on paper

Bernat Martorell | Saint George Killing the Dragon | 1430/35 | 98.1 x 155.6 centimeters | Tempera on panel