Dragons are sinister fire-breathing creatures that have always been a part of fantasy and legend. Dragon paintings have not just found their place in Chinese folklore but also among various historical art. Originated from ancient Mesopotamia, these ferocious monsters have been depicted uniquely in every nation and culture.

These reptilian creatures were featured in the court of Turkey rulers and the Zoroastrian tradition of Iran. Dragons were portrayed as evil and menacing in European culture, whereas altruistic and mellow in Chinese. Western fantasy rendered dragons in Game of Thrones, Lord of the rings, and Harry Potter.

Let us now dive into the various artworks that have illustrated these ravening beasts charismatically:

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun (1805) by William Blake

Painted in 1805 by the paint maker and romantic poet William Blake, 'The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun' represents the dragon as an embodiment of Satan. The creature's description is an enormous red dragon with ten horns and seven crowns on his seven heads.

The Satanic dragon takes revenge on the virtuous mother of the son of God, who will be the precursor of the Christian faith. The woman is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and twelve stars above her head. The fashionably widespread wings of the aggrieved dragon encapsulate the painting with different shades of coral.

The dragon painting strikingly represents the dominance of evil over good, but it also signals the resistance and defiance of the good. The wings provided by God to the woman create an opposite force. These act as a light to fight against the darkness.

Saint George and the Dragon (1605-1607) by Peter Rubens

Created between 1605 and 1607, this oil painting by Peter Paul Rubens shows Saint George saving the princess of Silence from the menacing dragon. The brave hero slays the dragon with his mighty sword on his white battalion. The princess stands behind holding a lamb, representing the church.

The colours used in the painting are vibrant and dramatic, and the brushstrokes are precise and well-blended. In addition, the diagonal positioning of George and the stallion gives the artwork a more playful vibe. This exceptional artwork inspired many Renaissance artists like Bernt Notke Raphael and Paolo Uccello to paint similar paintings.

Little St. Michael (1504) by Raphael

Also called 'Saint Michael and the Dragon by Raphael,' this artwork was painted by the High Renaissance painter Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino or Raphael. The painting depicts Archangel Michael slaying the dragon, a manifestation of an ungodly rule. With a burning city behind him, the young Micheal defeats the dragon with a graceful yet fearsome stance.

Dante's Inferno and its mythical poem, the Divine Comedy, inspired the ancillary scenes in the centre of this painting. Serpents on the left bind a group of thieves, and the right shows hypocrites receiving punishments for their sins. This 'Apocalypse of Saint John' can be found in the Book of Revelation.

Nine Dragons (1244) by Chen Rong

'Nine Dragons' is a handscroll painting created by Chinese painter Chen Rong in 1244. Rong has depicted nine dragons, who are presumably the nine sons of the Dragon King. Soaring and flying high in the sky, surrounded by clouds, mist, and fire, are the daunting dragons in all their vigour.

The use of monochrome ink with occasional splotches of red reveals Rong's hatred towards his struggling life. The shadows surrounding the dragons highlight the creatures magnificently. Furthermore, in Chinese astrology, the number nine is considered an auspicious number. The painting is also said to represent the ideas of Daoism, a famous philosophy and religion of the Eastern Asian countries.

St. George and the Dragon (1555) by Jacopo Tintoretto

The same famous subject of Saint George saving the princess from a dragon is carried out in this painting. Tintoretto's artwork, however, is more colourful, with a vibrant landscape where horrific events are transpiring. In addition, Tintoretto drew the masterpiece roughly around 1555 on a compact canvas, suggesting that it was for personal use.

Saint George slays the dragon by the sea's edge with a corpse lying in the centre. The princess is in the foreground, fear evident in her eyes. The red and blue roses decorate the draperies around, creating a contrast with the theme. Finally, there is a drawing of a divine figure of God blessing Saint George in the sky.


Dragons have been the source of fascination and intrigue for people from all civilizations and centuries. Its reach in fiction and myth has surpassed boundaries. These dragon paintings have a hub at the 1st Art Gallery. So bring these fire-breathing beasts to your home and morph the mythical tales into reality!