Mythical Dragon Drawings From Around The World

For centuries, legends and myths about an ancient fire-breathing reptile have permeated cultures across the globe. Unfortunately, as most folklores fade over time, many old tales are lost in history. However, the legend of the dragon has persisted through history and found its way into modern times.

The narratives about dragons differ; in some epic tales, dragons are depicted as humanity’s most dreadful nemesis, while others portray them as loyal beasts coexisting with their human counterparts. Whether Smaug from Lord of the Rings or Drogon from Game of Thrones, dragons remain creatures that have instilled fear and stirred fascination.

Dragons are also a fixture in the art; they are often referred to as the most iconic figures in fantasy art. From their majestic wings to their barbed spine, they have captivated the minds of several artists who, in turn, tried to capture their intimidating presence on canvas. In this article, we will examine the works of these artists and their dragon paintings.

Tales of the Dragons

The myth about dragons dates as far back as the earliest human civilizations. It is possible that with advancements in mining and quarrying around 8000 BC, fossilized remains of prehistoric animals were discovered, and without the right technologies for anatomical accuracy, ancient men created the popular image of dragons.

As the tales of exotic giant lizards traveled through several cultures worldwide, extra layers of details were added, including the nature and abilities of the reptiles. A dragon is popularly described as a four-legged reptilian creature complete with horns and a barbed tail in today’s popular culture. However, most eastern cultures portray a wingless serpentine image. A commonality among these cultural depictions is the ability of dragons to breathe fire from their mouths and nostrils.

Among other things, art has served as a medium for documenting events throughout history. As tales of dragons and historic figures continued to rise, so did artistic illustrations about them. Several murals and paintings depicting dragons have been discovered from ancient Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire and even some Middle Eastern cultures.

Also, in the modern world, dragons continue to be popular motifs for the fantasy genre of contemporary art. Here, we’ve selected some of the most famous historical dragon paintings worldwide:

The Great Red Dragon by William Blake

This is a watercolor painting by romantic poet and artist William Blake between 1805 and 1810. It depicts a dramatic battle between the cosmic forces of good and evil inspired by the biblical book of Revelation.

We see a massive seven-headed dragon painting with ten horns and crowns adorning each of its heads. The dragon descends upon a woman wrapped in the sun, with the moon as her footstool. The dragon symbolizes Satan, while the woman, according to Revelation, has just birthed the world’s savior.

The tension is high in this epic battle as the painting brilliantly illustrates the dire tone of Revelation, alluding that humanity’s fate is at stake. The dragon itself is a menacing figure with reptilian, avian, and humanoid features.

Saint George And The Dragon by Raphael

This is a miniature panel painting by Italian Renaissance artist Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known simply as Raphael. It was produced in 1505 and currently resides in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. It is one of two versions made by the artist.

The painting illustrates the famous tale of Saint George and the dragon. Saint George was a Roman soldier and Christian who rescued a pagan princess from a dragon by subduing it and later slaying it with his sword. The event then prompted the religious conversion of the entire village.

The painting depicts the armor-clad Saint subduing the dragon with his wooden lance as the grateful princess watches on in the background with her hands clasped. The dragon is portrayed as a dark figure on the ground, emphasizing its threat and defeat.

St. Michael by Raphael

This is another one of Raphael’s works based on the biblical book of Revelation, produced sometime between 1504 and 1505. It is widely thought that the Duke of Urbino commissioned the world in honor of Louis XII of France.

It shows the archangel Michael battling hellish creatures portrayed as miniature dragons. Reminiscent of a graceful ballet dancer, the boyish Michael tramples one of the dragons under his foot with a raised hand wielding his sword and a shield in the other. The scene is set in a bleak background with the silhouette of a city ablaze in the distance.

The painting is rendered in shades of red and black, aptly representing an apocalyptic scene. It is the first of two works by Raphael on martial subjects.

Nine Dragons by Chen Rong

Dating as far back as 1244, this handscroll painting by Chinese artist Chen Rong is perhaps one of the oldest depictions of dragons in art history. It was produced using black ink and a touch of red.

The painting depicts dragons flying amidst mists, mountains, whirlpools, and fire, referring to the four elements of nature in Chinese philosophy. The dragons themselves are linked to the nine princes of the Dragon King—the Chinese weather and water god—and the number 9 is considered a promising figure in Chinese folklore.

Some portions of the painting feature ink drop likely spattered or blown onto the scroll. This is thought to be a deliberate move by the artist to evoke rain and may have even been part of a rainmaking ritual. Additionally, some lines of Rong’s inscription on the scroll describe his dragons with rainmaking abilities.

Conclusion

Something about dragons has commanded people’s attention from ancient civilization to modern times. Is it the ferocity that has become synonymous with untameable power? Or the mysticism that surrounds the very existence of its lore? Whatever the reason, dragons will continue to intrigue cultures and peoples worldwide, and as such, they will remain a great inspiration for artists.