Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Birds on a Wintry Tree

Unidentified Artist
Formerly Attributed to Lidi (Chinese, ca. 1110– after 1197)
Song dynasty (960–1279)
13th century
Fan mounted as an album leaf; ink and color on silk
9 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (23.8 x 24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
Not on view
Two magpies, their feathers fluffed up against the cold, represent a warm reminder of the inevitability of spring. Such pictures of paired birds were often given as birthday gifts to elderly couples. The white heads of the birds and their long tail feathers are symbols of longevity, as is the ancient tree upon which they perch, for despite being covered with snow, the tree has already sprouted new growth—a sign of its enduring vigor.
Marking: Collectors' seals:
John M. Crawford, Jr., 1 seal
Unidentified, 1 seal
John M. Crawford Jr. , New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. China House Gallery. "Selections of Chinese Art from Private Collections in the Metropolitan Area," November 15, 1966–February 15, 1967.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art," February 27, 2010–November 28, 2010.

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