Dragons in Old Art

So I got a hankering to see how dragons have been painted/drawn/sculpted in the past. I thought I might get some ideas for a new way to portray dragons, an idea for a new story.

I didn’t get one, but I found a lot more dragon art than I imagined existed.

I went to the MET website, did a search, and pages and pages showed up. It’s kind of amazing.

This one is from France, 1633, by Nicolas Poussin, and I think the dragon looks small, but fierce. Those Romans look real, don’t they?

Romans and a dragon! Title: The Companions of Rinaldo


This one is from Italy, 1390, from the Workshop of Agnolo Gaddi. I have to say, the lady looks very calm for being swallowed alive by a dragon. This is the type of dragon head I usually picture when I picture dragons.

Title: Saint Margaret and the Dragon


This one! This one is really, really good. Maybe I should have started with this one first. It’s from Japan, 19th century, by Kawanabe Kyōsai. I love the yoga-ish pose, how the dragon is breathing fire, and the guy looks almost like he’s praying. The dragon? It looks almost like a pet. It’s hard to say.

Title: Shaka and the Dragon


This one is from Iran, third quarter 16th century, and no artist is listed. For an ink and water-color drawing from so long ago, this is really well-preserved. I like the details, how the dragon is wrapped around the mountain and most of the animals are running away. Except for a rabbit and two – deer? Are those deer? I can’t quite tell.

Title: Hero and Dragon


It’s from China, 12th–14th century, Southern Song, and it is made of jade. This is a brush washer. Um, are you supposed to wash writing brushes in this? I think it is far too pretty to use to wash anything.

Brush washer in the shape of lotus leaf with feline dragons


This is from China, 14th–15th century, Yuan or early Ming dynasty and the artist is not listed.  It’s my favorite. I can’t say why, I just love the trees and the dragons and how it’s eyes rolled off to the side.

Title: Dragons and Landscape




12 thoughts on “Dragons in Old Art

  1. Thanks for sharing these great pics, Sonia! I don’t know, those two look more like wolves or coyotes to me, but it’s really hard to tell! And it looks like the one at the bottom is thinking “oops…I feel bad that I burned all the trees.” Very cool stuff. 🙂

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