This rare early drawing was published by Degenhart and Schmitt in their section devoted to Paolo Uccello. The subject is an example of a motif often used in the fifteenth century, and bears close similarities with Florentine pattern-books of animals, some associated with the bottega of Uccello.1 A copy of the same dragon is in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, where the invention of such a fantastic creature has been attributed to Paolo Uccello.2 It is interesting to note that the same dragon fighting a lion appears in the lower left-hand section of a Florentine print, circa 1460, attributed to Baccio Baldini (circa 1436-1487) of which the only surviving example is in the British Museum.3 A very similar dragon appears again in the top left section of another of Baldini's engravings, of about the same date, The Creation of Eve,4 which shows three episodes from the Creation condensed in one image, and appears to derive from Paolo Uccello's frescoes of circa 1430 in the Chiostro Verde, Santa Maria Novella, Florence.5 There are also similarities with the dragon in Uccello's panel St. George and the Dragon, in the Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris.6 The subject could represent a political allegory, illustrating the battles between Florence and Milan, the lion being a representation of the Marzocco, the heraldic lion which was the republican symbol of Florence, while the dragon could represent the Biscione, the emblem of the Visconti family of Milan.
1. B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, op. cit., pp. 406-412, reproduced
2. H.T. Schulze Altcappenberg, Die italienischen Zeichnungen des 14 und 15 Jahrhunderts im Berliner Kupferstichkabinett: Kritischer Katalog, Berlin 1995, pp. 264-5, reproduced
3. B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, op. cit., p. 401, reproduced fig. 532
4. A.M. Hind, op. cit., pl. 86
5. J. Pope-Hennessy, Paolo Uccello, 2d ed., London & New York, 1969, reproduced pls.1-10
6. Ibid., pl. 77
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