A long time ago now (it seems), in our Reading group we discussed dragons as possibly universal archetypes and their different meanings in Western and Eastern cultures/literatures. Well English Lady Blogger Through the Sapphire Sky has written a very interesting and colourful post on this very subject. Please consider, “Alike in composition, unlike in meaning”:
When I saw this beautiful painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770) on Aputsiaq ‘s blog, I doubted if the lady riding or standing on the dragon was really the Virgin Mary. I at first thought that She can’t have ridden such a creature by any means, for as far as I know, dragons have always been considered evil beings in the West. However, because of the title of the painting, The Immaculate Conception, I reconsidered and I came to believe that the lady must be Mary.
I could not understand why she rode or stood on the dragon for a long time. The painting remained a mystery for months. Recently, I realized that I had been completely mistaken by reading some articles about Marian Art and some Biblical passages and I finally figured out what this piece means. She is not riding or just standing on the dragon but instead she is stamping it down and triumphing over the creature, which is a metaphor for the devil.