Dragons in Art: The Most Famous Dragon Paintings

Dragons are long known to symbolize power, wealth, bravery, and good luck. Though in some places, like the Bible, they are portrayed as evil. It’s been portrayed on scrolls, rocks, porcelains, and paintings since ancient times.

When it comes to fantasy, dragons are majorly all artists’ muses. These powerful and majestic ancient beasts have dazzled the hearts of not only painters but also writers.

Dragons were seen as mythical creatures at the start. However, it wasn’t until the Song Dynasty (960 BC – 1279 BC) that people began to specialize in dragon paintings. They saw art as an opportunity to let out their feelings and sentiments. Here’s a list of the most famous dragon paintings that have managed to enthrall many.

Saint Michael and the Dragon by Raphael Sanzio

‘Saint Michael and The Dragon’ is an Italian painter and architect Raffaello (Raphael) Sanzio da Urbino’s first oil painting based on martial subjects. Raffaello is a well-known artist specifically for the clarity and visual achievement of the Neo-platonic era.

Many recognize this painting as ‘the Little St. Michael.’ It is so-called to distinguish it from other famous paintings based on the same theme. While people know about this famous piece of art, many don’t know the story. The painting is based on a revelation from the Bible regarding Archangel Michael.

Raphael’s painting depicts Archangel Michael holding a sword and a shield in all his angelic glory while a dragon is trampled beneath his foot. The painting’s background showcases what looks like hell, with a city burning in the distance and demons and dragons surrounding the Archangel.

The painting ‘Saint Michael and The Dragon’ was created especially for the Duke of Urbino, Guidobaldo da Montefeltro. Today it is present in the Louver Museum in Paris.

St. George Slaying the Dragon by Hans Von Aachen

Hans Von Aachen is a renowned painter famous for his paintings based on religious and historical subjects and erotic mythological sense. This German Mannerist painter crafted ‘St. George Slaying the Dragon’ after being influenced by Saint George and his famous folklore.

This famous dragon painting depicts the legend of Saint George, a patron saint of England who slew a dragon when he got to know it was terrorizing a village. ‘St. George Slaying the Dragon’ showcases the most prominent feature in all his paintings; innocence. The portrait shows St. George on top of a white horse, slaying a dragon with his spear.

This oil painting gives a feel of innocence, heroism, terrorism, and drama. In this painting, Hans Von successfully portrayed the Christian Crusades’ wars fused with medieval chivalry.

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun by William Blake

Blake William is a poet and a painter known for his creative artistic skills. With his creative artistic skills, he came up with the masterpiece ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed,’ which goes beyond what is just seen visually.

This art piece is a part of his series of watercolor paintings called ‘The Great Red Dragon.’ William Blake was commissioned to curate a hundred paintings that could be used in the Bible. Initially, this commission was the main reason he started making these paintings.

This unique art piece shows a dragon disembarking upon a woman clothed in yellow. Through this watercolor painting, William depicts Revelation 12:3-4 from the Bible.

The painting symbolizes a battle between evil and good. The dragon is manifested as Satan, who is trying to counterattack the sun-clothed woman. The woman is seen to be resting her feet on the moon. ‘The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun’ is a uniquely painted portrait series kept at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.

The Dragon on Smoke Escaping From Mt. Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai was a famous Japanese artist of the Edo period. He was famous as the leading expert in Chinese-style portraits. While aiming to die at 100, Katsushika Hokusai died at 90. His last artwork was his most famous painting ‘The Dragon on Smoke Escaping From Mt. Fuji.’ He painted this historical dragon painting three months before his death on his birthday.

This painting was made using only ink and a brush. The white snowy mountain shown in the painting is the new silk canvas. The dragon is seen emerging from Mt. Fiji and escaping with the help of the black smoke.

As this painting was his last work, many think that this artwork is a portrayal of his will. But, on the contrary, the dragon is him, wanting to reach the highest point of his artistic self after realizing that death is inevitable. Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘The Dragon on Smoke Escaping From Mt. Fuji’ sits at the Museum of Hokusai in Obuse, Nagano Prefecture.

The Dragon Chariot and Fairy Minstrels Cross The Moon by Charles Altamont Doyle

Charles Altamont Doyle was an illustrator and a painter famous for his paintings during his time in an asylum. His artwork has been called “the artwork of a mad man” by many.

When Charle’s career began, the art world’s fascination for fairies and other mystical beings, including dragons, was at its peak. His painting ‘The Dragon Chariot and Fairy Minstrels Cross The Moon’ was painted during this time.

The dragon painting gives a feeling of mystical harmony. It portrays fairies and other mystical beings riding on a chariot that a dragon is leading on a chilly night. This Victorian-themed painting is considered the most outstanding work of Charles Doyle.

Conclusion

It is worth noting that Dragons as a form of expression and emotions have been used since the Six Dynasty (220–589). Therefore, these mystical creatures will forever hold a separate mark in the artwork’s history.

Many well-renowned artists have used dragons to symbolize either good luck or evil. Similarly, in five of these most famous dragon paintings, the artists have curated their pieces representing dragons as both.

While there are many famous artworks regarding dragons, these five are the most famous and hold more value in the art world.

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