Rendered with jewel-like precision, technical examination of the present bronze by Bewer and Lie uncovered that some of these fine details were made in the wax model and some later chased in the metal (Schwartz, op. cit., pp. 16-17). In the corresponding catalogue entry the bronze was described as coming from the 'circle of Pietra Tacca', probably because of the connection of the horse to Pietro Tacca's monumental equestrian bronzes of Louis XIII of 1617 and Carlo Emmanuele of Savoy of 1619. However, both the torqued horse and ferocious, contorted dragon, seem to have been inspired by the work of Hubert Gerhard and his pupil Caspar Gras, in Innsbruck or Munich, and in particular, their monument to Grand Duke Maximilian III made between 1608-1619 for the Dom St. Jakob in Innsbruck (Diemer, loc. cit.). The details of the dragon, such as the entire head, spikes along the spine, scales and even the unusual oval eye-shaped motifs on the wings are all nearly identical to the present dragon (Diemer, op. cit., vol. II, nos. 221a-b). Other details of the present bronze link closely with Gerhard's work, such as the similarity of St George's high-style costume to the armour of Augustus in Gerhard's Augustus fountain of Augsburg of 1590-94, and Gerhard's and Carlo di Cesare's memorial figures for the monument of Ludwig IV of Bavaria in Munich's Frauenkirche of 1593-96.
THE CHATEAU DE MARTINVAST AND THE COLLECTIONS OF BARON ARTHUR DE SCHICKLER
The Abbott-Guggenheim St George and the Dragon was in the collection of Baron Arthur de Schickler (1828-1919), the banker to the Prussian Royal family, at the château de Martinvast. The château, in lower Normandy on the peninsula known as La Manche, remains to this day an amalgam of an original Gothic structure with fantastic neo-Gothic accretions. De Schickler's collections were vast and typical of hyper-sophisticated collectors buying in the second half of the 19th century, whether Rothschilds on the Ringstrasse, or Frick and Poor on 5th Avenue or in Tuxedo Park. His famed collection included such works as Boticelli's Portrait of a Youth, Desiderio da Settignano's Bust of Isotta da Rimini and Mino da Fiesole's Bust of Astorgio Manfredi, all three of which are now in Washington's National Gallery.
Marguerite de Schickler, who had married comte Hubert de Pourtalès in 1890, was the sole heiress of Arthur de Schickler. In April of 1919, the majority of the collections were then sold by Pourtalès in a spectacular deal jointly to the Duveen Brothers, Arnold Seligmann in Paris and Wildenstein & Co. of New York. The works were then divided amongst these three commercial empires in 1922, with the present bronze being one of the pieces chosen by the Duveen brothers. E. Fowles, in his Memories of Duveen Brothers (London, 1976, pp. 102-103 and 134) discusses this unusual deal and the distribution of the works of art. It is interesting to note St. George and the Dragon may have been kept for Duveen's personal collection, as opposed to being stock in the gallery, as it was still in his collection and sold by his estate after his death in 1960.