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The Great Red Dragon Paintings of William Blake

William Blake was a visionary, even hallucinatory English painter who lived at the dawn of the technological era. Unlike most artists of his era he did not draw from life, claiming that the visions that appeared before him were clearer and more vivid than his perception of external reality. You can find much more about his life and art from the resources listed on our William Blake page.

Around 1805-1810, Blake was commissioned to create over a hundred paintings illustrating books from the Bible. Among these was a four-painting cycle of the Great Red Dragon (Satan) from the Book of Revelations in the Bible. The dragon is described as having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven crowns. His tail drew one third of the stars of the sky, and threw them to the earth.

The Great Red Dragon and
the Beast from the Sea

National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.

The Great Red Dragon and the
Woman Clothed with the Sun

National Gallery of Art,
Washington D.C.

The Great Red Dragon and
the Woman Clothed in Sun

Brooklyn Museum of Art

The Number of the
Beast is 666

Rosenbach Museum and
Library, Philadelphia

Red Dragon Movie Poster

Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris

The third image above, now at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, was the specific work that inspired Francis Dolarhyde, the mad killer in Red Dragon. [Minor spoiler: The culmination of his obsession occurs when he travels to the museum and eats the painting.]

Manhunter An interesting note is that the new movie Red Dragon is the second time the book has been filmed (and Anthony Hopkins is therefore the second actor to play Hannibal Lecter). The book was originally filmed as Manhunter in 1986, with William L. Petersen, Dennis Farina, and Brian Cox as Hannibal. Some prefer it to The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal - read why on Amazon.com.
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

More books by
Thomas Harris...

Posters by William Blake

I'm not aware that any of the Red Dragon paintings are available as posters, but a variety of Blake's other works are available from AllPosters:
Newton God Judging Adam Pity The Circle of the Lustful Oberon, Titania & Puck Beatrice Addressing Dante