Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Not on view
The balanced composition, shimmering palette, and lyrical rhythms of the birds' silhouettes in this work, dated two years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, convey contentment. Li Kuchan could once again celebrate the simple pleasures of life in his art, as his inscription suggests:
When I lived in Jiangnan, I kept some cormorants and I would watch them from morning to night chasing about the waves to catch fish in endlessly variable and indescribable ways. It was most enjoyable.
(Wen Fong, trans., Between Two Cultures: Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art [New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001], p. 229)
Signature: Playful ink by Kuchan, the 82 year old man Dated early winter of 1979
Artist's inscription: Once in the past at a lake in the South, I fed some cormorants. I watched them from morning til night. Some caught fish, some swam along, some fished together. Their moods and appearance were constantly changing in ways too numerous to depict. It was really very enjoyable.
Artist's seals: 1. Lishi Kuchan (rectangular, red characters) 2. The more study, the greater the fool (rectangular, red characters)
Marking: Collectors' seals: Robert Hatfield Ellsworth
Robert H. Ellsworth , New York (until 1986; donated to MMA)
Fort Worth. Kimbell Art Museum. "Style and Expressionism: Modern Chinese Painting," November 4, 1989–January 14, 1990.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Between Two Cultures: A Selection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," January 30, 2001–August 19, 2001.