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Lotus and Water Birds

Unidentified Artist

Period:
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Date:
ca. 1300
Culture:
China
Medium:
Pair of hanging scrolls; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image (each): 55 3/4 x 26 3/4 in. (141.6 x 67.9 cm) Overall with mounting (each): 107 1/2 x 27 1/4 in. (273.1 x 69.2 cm) Overall with knobs (each): 107 1/2 x 27 3/4 in. (273.1 x 70.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1988
Accession Number:
1988.155a, b
  • Description

    Imported from India, the lotus—growing from the slime of a pond, its blossoms blooming unsullied—was linked to Buddhist images of purity and rebirth. By the thirteenth century, naturalistic depictions of lotus in different seasons also evoked the ephemeral nature of physical beauty. This large-scale decorative work is by a professional painter of the Piling School, situated near Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. The midsummer scene (on the right) shows lotus flowers in early stages of budding and bloom, while the autumnal scene (on the left) shows its later stages: petals falling, leaves turning brown, and seed pods ripening. The newly sprouted water reeds of midsummer also contrast with the late-blooming water plant and the smartweed that has gone to seed, while the busy activity of a pair of ducks skimming the water for food on the right is juxtaposed with two egrets resting quietly on the left.

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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
36437:2

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