About the Works

Dragon and Clouds

Tawaraya Sotatsu

  • Dragon and Clouds / Tawaraya Sotatsu
  • Dragon and Clouds / Tawaraya Sotatsu

Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Gift of Charles Lang FreerF1905.229, F1905.230

These images are based on the high resolution facsimile produced by the Tsuzuri Project. Unauthorized copying, duplication, or transfer of these images is strictly prohibited.

Tawaraya Sotatsu
Historical era:
Edo (17th century)
printed on washi paper
Pair of six-fold screens
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
Each screen H171.5 × W374.3 cm
The University Art Museum of the Tokyo University of the ArtsMAP
Current owner:
The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution
ink on washi paper

This rendition of the Dragon and Clouds features the signature "Hokkyo Sotatsu" and a seal bearing "Taichin". It is one of the few works of art recognized as an authentic painting by Sotatsu, and the only large-scale ink and water painting he ever did. The dragons on the left and right screens confront each other with one dragon rising above the clouds and waves, and the other dragon on its descent. The clouds are painted using a technique called "tarashikomi" whereby a second color is poured over the background. This sharpens the contrast of the clouds and creates visual depth. The artist, Sotatsu, operated a painting gallery in Kyoto called Tawaraya and was active in the early Edo era. Much about his life, including his date of birth and death remains unknown. It is believed that Sotatsu began working with sliding doors and screens in his later years, post 1620.

About the Works