Dragon and Waves

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1798-1861)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1827-31
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 37.4 x 25.9 cm (14 3/4 x 10 3/16 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, dragon, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, ukiyo-e, wave
Provenance research underway.

In East Asia, the dragon is associated with water and rain, and is also one of the twelve animals of the zodiac. As in Kuniyoshi's vivid and innovative prints of warriors and heroes in the late 1820s and 1830s, this image of a dragon emerging from clouds presents large-scale, dynamic figures whose forms and movement defy the lateral boundaries and surface plane of the print. Kuniyoshi's powerful design, with its limited color scheme dominated by black and gray, recalls a long tradition of Japanese ink paintings of dragons that had begun centuries earlier with the introduction of the subject through Chinese ink paintings imported to Japan.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 105, pp. 264-265.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.