We start our participation in the MuseumWeek on twitter under the motto Heroes with a very classic male hero: the knight George – here in the north also called St. Jürgen – a Christian saint and emergency helper. Among other things, he was responsible for lightning missions against fever and plague – suitable for our times! – and also a symbol of the eternal struggle against evil.
Our hero from the collection is one of our oldest figures and belongs to the estate of the puppeteer dynasty Winter. The St. George probably around 1900 by Karl Traugott or even Heinrich Johannes Winter sr. (1863-1943).A good 85 cm tall, dressed with lace and a wonderful, detailed armor, it is a classic puppeteer, who held a similar position with the old wandering puppeteers as actors today in the theater: she could be moved and quite different roles play.For example, the name „Golo“ is also listed for this puppet; an evil figure from the legend of genovefa of Brabant.
In his role as George, however, he fought as a knight in radiant armor against a terrible lindworm – the epitome of all devilish things – and freed the holde Virgin, who was to be sacrificed to the dragon for appeasement. By the way, this princess is not to be found in our collection. Either one of our beautiful female winter characters had this role, among other things, and we just don’t know, or the Winters have omitted this part of the legend and only focused on the action-packed part. And he had it in him!
In a magnificent staging – in the photo from an old catalogue, dragons and knights stand in front of a wonderfully painted stage brochure – the two fought a dramatic, wild battle: George rattled with his sword and slapped himself, the dragon seemed to spew fire sparks. In the end, of course, the knight won, but the dragon still waited with a breathtaking „stunt“: When the knight knocked off his head, a swarm of red blood poured onto the stage! Whoever built the dragon had a sense of stage effects. Inside the dragon is a red cloth hidden, which was pulled out at lightning speed at the end and simulated the swell of blood.In times before computer-animated fight scenes, this was very impressive.
The figure of the dragon in general: with its 139cm long body made of dark green fabric, leather and wood, it already looks very threatening, as if covered with a scale armour. But the most impressive is the head. No wonder! Because this is formed from the head of a pike (which the passionate angler Karl Winter is said to have caught himself). The use of unusual materials to enhance theatrical effects was not uncommon among puppeteers, especially as far as the diabolical, eerie figures are concerned. But this also connects our figures with art: even the Lübeck artist Bernt Notke, who is credited with an impressive St. Jürgen group in Stockholm (copy in the Katharinenkirche!), used elk antlers for his dragon in the 15th century to make it even more terrifying.
In the 1980s, the estate of the puppeteer dynasty Winter came to the Theaterfigurenmuseum, with many puppets, props, wonderfully painted stage designs and a whole historical stage construction.
Today, the knight George and his faithful friend, the dragon, sit in the depot, somewhat exhausted, resting from their long and exciting life on stage.