Skip to Content

25 Free Vintage Dragon Pictures from Around the World

Explore a unique collection of vintage dragon illustrations that bring to life the rich history and diverse interpretations of dragons in art. Perfect for enthusiasts and collectors alike!

These mythical creatures have captured the human imagination for centuries. From the brooding skies of Europe to the vibrant landscapes of China and Japan, dragons have held a special place in our hearts and stories.

And guess what? The next Lunar New Year marks the auspicious Year of the Dragon, adding extra excitement to the exploration of this legendary creature!

Styles of Dragons

Dragons are seen differently worldwide, and what they represent varies based on where you are. The way people imagine a fantasy dragon and what they stand for changes from one region to another, as explained below.

European Dragons: Guardians of Treasures and Tales

Western-style dragons are usually depicted as large, fire-breathing creatures with wings, resembling giant lizards or serpents. They’re often the bad guys in fairy tales, keeping watch over huge treasures or princesses.

A famous example is Saint George fighting the dragon, showing bravery and winning against tough challenges. These dragons have wings like bats and can breathe fire. They’re not just scary; they also stand for power, strength, and mysterious things we don’t understand.

24 free vintage dragon pictures pin

Eastern Dragons: Symbols of Wisdom and Prosperity 

As we journey eastward, the image of the dragon undergoes a remarkable transformation. In Chinese culture, the dragon is revered as a symbol of wisdom, power, and good fortune.

Unlike their European counterparts, Chinese dragons are serpentine and often without wings, seen as benevolent beings controlling water, rainfall, and floods. These dragons are deeply woven into the fabric of Chinese culture, celebrated in festivals and art.

Similarly, in Japanese folklore, dragons are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water. The Japanese dragon, or ‘Ryū’, is often seen as a protector and benefactor. These elegant, slender dragons bring to mind the delicate balance of nature and the respect for the elements prevalent in Japanese culture.

The Year of the Dragon: A Special Time

In the Chinese Zodiac, each year is linked to an animal, and the Dragon is one of them. People think the Dragon Year is auspicious. It’s a time for being brave and chasing your dreams. This year, there are many fun celebrations with dragon dances and fireworks. It’s all about good luck and being happy.

Download Free Vintage Dragon Pictures

Did you know you can easily download these stunning free pictures? It’s simple – click on the title above each dragon illustration. Doing so will open high-quality images in a new tab. From there, you can print the free images out or save them for later use.

The best part? All these high quality images are in the Public Domain, which means you’re free to use them however you want, even for commercial use.

So, whether you’re a fan of dragon art, a creative looking for inspiration, or need something unique for a project, these illustrations are available for you to use without any restrictions. Enjoy exploring and using these timeless dragon depictions!

European Vintage Dragon Pictures

Print 1: Theatre Dragon

This free download is from the collection at Houghton Library, Harvard University. “Dragon holding a goose” (with St. George in the background). Designs for the theatre, ca. 1850, by Richard Wynne Keene.

Dragon and Goose theatre illustration

2. Bell and The Dragon

A cartoon of dragon fire with a political message from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection by Thomas Rowlandson 1811.

Bell and the dragon

3. Roundel with Daniel Slaying the Dragon

The “Roundel with Daniel Slaying the Dragon” from 1520 is a South Netherlandish stained glass work. This piece combines religious storytelling with the exquisite craftsmanship typical of the early 16th century. The roundel depicts the biblical scene of Daniel killing the dragon

Daniel slaying the dragon 1520 glass window

Print 4. Flying Dragons

The “Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch,” including Folio 127 titled “Drachen über Böhmen” (Dragons over Bohemia), is a 16th-century manuscript illustrating various natural and supernatural phenomena. This folio depicts dragons, a common theme in these Renaissance wonder books that blend art, folklore, and early scientific observation.

Vintage dragon picture flying dragons

Print 5: George and The Dragon

More vintage dragon pictures from the Harvard Theater Collection. St. George and ye Dragons”. Designs for the theatre, ca. 1850, by Richard Wynne Keene (1809-1887)

Vintage dragon pictures George and the Dragon

Print 6: Mythical Dragon

Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch, the mythical creature dragon 1806.

fire breathing dragon illustration

Print 7: Anselmus Boëtius de Boodt, 1596 – 1610

Dragon drawing from an album with reptiles, amphibians, and natural historical ensembles in the collection at the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands.

vintage dutch dragon drawing

Print 8: Dragon with Flowers

“Goldsmith’s Bouquet Sprouting from the Mouth of a Dragon” by Balthasar Le Mersier 1626.

This picture with the sprouting flowers could be easily be transformed into a fun dragon coloring sheets.

Dragon with flowers

Print 9: Dragon and Rainbow

Another vintage dragon painting from the Rijksmuseum by Johan Braakensiek, 1868 – 1940.

dragon with rainbow and pot Chinol

Print 10: Cartoon Dragon

Artist unknown from Belgium 1830.

cartoon flying dragon 1830

Vintage Japanese Dragon Illustrations

Print 11: Two Japanese Dragons

Two Dragons” by Utagawa Yoshitsuya, created between 1843-1847, is a Japanese woodblock print featuring dragons, a common motif in Japanese mythology symbolizing strength and wisdom.

Japanese woodblock print 2 dragons

Print 12: Kunisada II Utagawa Vintage Dragon Picture

The Dragon, c. 1860. The print depicts the Buddha riding on the back of a giant sea-dragon. From the series Modern Illustrations of Buddhist Precepts (Hasso-ki Imayo Utsushi-e).

Kunisada The vintage dragon pictures woodblock print

Print 13: Tamatora and the Dragon Master

Another Kunisada woodblock print. Tamatora has recovered the pearl from the palace on the Dragon king, while she was threatened by all sea creatures.

Japanese woodblock Dragon illustration

Print 14: Dragon and Mt Fuji

Ukiyo-e print from Ogata Gekko‘s Views of Mt. Fuji. A dragon rises out of smoke near Mt. Fuji, ascending towards the sky.

Vintage dragon pictures, dragon ascending Mt Fuji

Print 15: Dragon and Tiger by Yoshimura Kokei

In the lunar calendar the tiger proceeds the dragon.

tiger with dragon

Print 16: Utagawa Kuniyoshi Large Dragon

Ryugu Tamatori Hime no su-Recovering the Stolen Jewel from the Palace of the Dragon King by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi Dragon

Print 17: Close Up Dragon

A close up picture of the dragon above.

Close up of Japanese woodblock Dragon Print

Print 18: Dragon And Snake Tattoo

A Japanese inspired tattoo of a snake and dragon from the Metropolitan Museum.

(There is a great example of a vintage Japanese tattoo in this collection of vintage Japanese Photos.)

Japanese inspired snake and Dragon tattoo

Vintage Chinese Dragon Illustrations

Print 19: Tibetan Dragon

This colourful dragon image is not actually from China but from one of its neighbours, Tibet. It’s from the Field Museum Chicago.

Tibetan dragon art

Print 20: Dragon Medallion

This is a silk tapestry from the  Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and is in the Met Museum.

On the Pictureboxblue, you’ll find similar colours and designs in this collection of Traditional Chinese Patterns.

Ming Dynasty Dragon Tapestry

Print 21: Chinese Dragon Coloring Page

From about 1900,  dragon design, possibly for a book jacket. This would be perfect for the addition of free printable dragon colouring pages.

Black and white vintage dragon picture colouring in

Print 22: Fairy Tale Dragon

“A fisherboy dived into the water and brought up a pearl from beneath the chin of a black dragon.” 1921 Chinese Fairy Book (Richard Wilhelm).

Chinese dragon illustration from fairy tale book

Print 23: Chinese Sage Evoking a Dragon

This is a Japanese woodblock print of a Chinese dragon from 1825.

Japanese woodblock of Chinese dragon 1825

Print 24: Cute Dragons Fariytale

This illustration includes a cute flying European dragon and a Chinese serpent type dragon. It is from the book “The Land of Long Ago”, by Elsa Beskow.

European dragon fairy tale book Illustration

Print 25: Needle Work Dragon

This beautiful dragon is from a needlework book “Fancy Work for Pleasure and Profit” (1905).

Needlework dragon pattern

Other Picture Posts

Dragons have different meanings in different cultures. They show us what different people value, fear, and hope for. As we get ready for the Year of the Dragon, let’s think about all these different dragon stories and what they mean. Dragons can be scary guards or kind protectors. They always make us think and help us feel connected to old stories and traditions.

If you liked these mythical creatures then check out my post on Scandinavian Fairytales.

Check out these Chinoiseries watercolours, and if you are looking for a Lunar New Year craft, try these free Chinese Paper Lantern templates based on vintage Chinese patterns.

If you fancy, you can Buy Me A Coffee Here.