Ancient Mystical Reptiles         // Cordell Radke


This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

This gallery includes representations of dragons depicted in paintings, pot paintings, and sculptures of different cultures. All of the art work included in this gallery are great examples of using specific coloring techniques such as value, contrast, and saturation. When people think of dragons today, we perceive them as very large fire-breathing lizards with wings and lots of sharp teeth. But, many people today don't know the history of the legendary creatures. Many representations of dragons can actually be found in old European, Chinese, and Japanese art. The mythology of dragons did not start in one culture, but many cultures. European and Japanese representations of dragons were actually quite different. It was the European culture that imagined the dragons as evil serpents with wings and fire breathing capabilities. The Chinese and Japanese dragons are more like snakes and water deities that are symbols for power and good luck. 

Carved inkstone with dragon, -1/1, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The carved ink stone depicts a dragon shooting or manipulating water from its mouth with clouds surrounding most of the dragon's body. The stone was carefully carved so that the outline of the dragon would be darker and contrasted from the rest of the light texture on the stone. The lines of the object flow and create the illusion of movement. Ink stones required water which maybe why the artist chose to carve a dragon since dragons in Japan and China were water deities.
Rofeno Abbey Poliptych. Saint Michael the Archangel slaying the Dragon between Saints Bartholomew and Benedict; Madonna with Child, Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Ludwig of Tolouse (in the cusps);, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1330 - 1335, From the collection of: Fondazione Musei Senesi
This painting depicts an archangel called "Saint Michael," slaying a dragon. The dragon looks more like a serpent with many heads and bright red wings. The colors are very rich and saturated. The cape of Saint Michael stands out because of the bright white color, drawing the viewer's attention to the scene. The painting itself is in the shape of a house or church building which creates symmetrical balance. This is also an example of variety as the viewer must move between figural groups.
Saint George Killing the Dragon, Bernat Martorell (Spanish, about 1400–1452), 1400/52, From the collection of: The Art Institute of Chicago
This painting depicts Saint George slaying a dragon in front of a princess and a kingdom. The dragon has bat-like wings, webbed feet,lots of teeth, and the tongue of a serpent. The dragon is painted with a deep black or brown and has a yellowish under belly. Saint George's armor is painted with the same brownish/blackish color that was used for the dragon with a bright white chest plate and cape. Many bright and dark colors are used in the painting creating a disorganized or distracting feeling which makes it hard to find a focus point. The princesses's robes are a desaturated red and the colors of the landscape, castle, and people are vibrant.
Flask painted in underglaze blue with dragons, Anonymous, 1403 - 1424, From the collection of: Hong Kong Museum of Art
The blue dragon painted on the white flask is a great example of contrast. The scales of the dragon are visible because of the white on black and dark blue. The dragon wraps around the flask along with little cracks or squiggles of blue and black lines. The flask is also an example of positive and negative space. The white area being the negative space while the blue-black are being the positive space.
Saint George and the Dragon, Raphael, c. 1506, From the collection of: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This painting depicts Saint George slaying a dragon. The colors of the dragon are very dark and almost fade into the colors of the landscape.The colors in this painting are very soothing and are not distracting. From the vibrant blue sky to soft metallic color on Saint George's armor, the emotion of the painting triggers warm feelings. The scene makes it look like Saint George is in control of the dragon and has won the battle while the princess is rejoicing. The horse's expression in the painting also looks as if it is rejoicing for the final end of the dragon.
Ascending dragon, Artist: Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The Ascending dragon depicts a dragon flying in the clouds. There is a strong use of darks and lights in this painting creating contrast. There is also a hint of the color red in the mouth and eyes of the dragon. There is a great use of value as shadows appear on the dragon as it weaves in and out of the clouds. All of the scales, horns, and claws are outlined in black.
Dragon and Waves, Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ca. 1827-31, From the collection of: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Dragon and Waves depicts a powerful dragon flying in the wind and manipulating the water below. It looks as if the dragon is controlling the water with its eyes and claws. The colors used in the piece are desaturated, but they are also triadic because the colors red, blue, and yellow were used. There is a hint of yellow in the eyes and red around the fangs and underbelly of the dragon. The scales are outlined with a thick black and have the color of a very soft blue-gray. The waves are a gradient from light blue to dark blue.
Two Dragons (in Clouds), Kano Hōgai, Japanese, 1828 - 1888, 1885; Meiji Period (1868-1912), From the collection of: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Two Dragons (in Clouds) depicts two dragons that are fighting in the clouds. The dragons appear aggressive and powerful. This painting is a great example of value and contrast. The use of ink on paper was masterfully done as the dragons look almost 3-dimensional. Shadows are shown in the distance as the light is striking the frontal portions of the dragons. The hard lines of the scales get lighter as they are closer to the light source.
Dragon and Clouds, Yokoyama Taikan, 1937, From the collection of: Adachi Museum of Art
Dragon and Clouds depicts a dragon aggressively soaring through the cloudy mist. The painting was done is black and white, but there seems to be a hint of yellow in the eyes of the dragon and the outlines of the clouds. The yellow in the art piece may symbolize the controlling power of the dragon just from its beaming gaze. The dragon almost blends in with the clouds as if it is one with nature. This art also demonstrates value as the art gives the illusion of lights and shadows.
Dragon, Prateep Kochabua, 2007, From the collection of: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA BANGKOK)
This painting depicts a colorful three headed dragon that looks as if it is melting with the fire that is coming out in the painting. The moon in the background creates a bright yellowish glow. The dragon heads look as if they are melting with bright warm colors as the rest of the body looks cold surrounded by darker colors. Many colors are used in the painting creating a mystical rainbow dragon feeling. But, the most prominent colors are split complementary of each other. For example, the blue-green and yellow-green scales on the tail lead into the red color. The flow of the lines in the painting also create the illusion of movement.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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