Birds and Flowers

Birds and Flowers
By Cao Mingzhou; pair of hanging scrolls, color on silk; height 157.0 cm each, width 85.1 cm each; China, Ming dynasty, 17th century; Gift of the Ii Family

The Ming-dynasty artist Cao Mingzhou, of Anhui Province, China, was famous for his bird and flower paintings. The large size of these two works made them well suited to hanging in the main shoin room of a daimyo residence. The right scroll shows autumn flowers and a pair of red-billed blue magpies, while the left scroll shows spring flowers and a pair of common magpies. With flowers peeking through holes in the porous Taihu stones and detailed depictions of the blossoms, this work is impressive for its technical sophistication and decorative ornamentation.

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