About the Works

Dragon and Clouds

Soga Shohaku

  • Dragon and Clouds / Soga Shohaku
  • Dragon and Clouds / Soga Shohaku

All photographs © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Reproduced with permission.

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.

Soga Shohaku
Historical era:
Edo (18th century)
printed on washi paper
eight panels
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
Each door H165.6 × W135.0 cm
Tenryuji TempleMAP
Current owner:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
ink on washi paper

This work depicts a huge dragon in a jet-black space measuring more than 165 cm high by 10 m wide. It was painted by Soga Shohaku, a man known as a "fantasy artist" because of his unconventional painting style. The work bears a signature and seal indicating it was created in 1763, when Soga Shohaku was 34 years old. It is believed to have been designed for use as sliding doors of a temple, but the details cannot be unconfirmed. "Dragon and Clouds" came into the possession of William Sturgis Bigelow, the renowned collector of Japanese art, who donated it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1911 in the form of paintings removed from the sliding doors. A few years ago, this work was restored to nearly original condition. Although the four panels depicting the portion of the dragon's body between the head and tail have been lost, this work is considered as one of Shohaku's masterpieces because the dynamic composition and powerful brush strokes are deeply evocative.

About the Works