Ma Lin (Chinese, active ca. 1180–after 1256)
Album leaf; ink and color on silk
10 7/16 x 8 7/8 in. (26.5 x 22.5 cm)
Signed: "Ma Lin"
Ex coll.: C.C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973 (1973.120.10)
This exquisite representation of an orchid, signed by Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan (active ca. 11901225), exemplifies the style of formal realism favored by the aristocratic Southern Song court. The simple asymmetrical balance of flowers and leaves, meticulously rendered in subtle shades of lavender, white, and malachite green, bespeaks a consciously aestheticizing sensibility. Such flower paintings recall late Southern Song lyric poems about flowers.