Crows in Old Trees

Luo Zhichuan Chinese

Not on view

This painting, by the southern artist Luo Zhichuan, demonstrates the renewed interest in the brush idioms of the Northern Song artists Li Cheng (919–967) and Guo Xi (ca. 1000–ca. 1090) that grew after the Mongol conquest forcefully reunified north and south China in 1279. Luo’s painting may be read as a bleak commentary on life under the Mongols, for the image of a wintry grove of trees has long been understood as a metaphor for likeminded men enduring political adversity. Similarly, the two male pheasants on the shore in the foreground symbolize scholars living in reclusion, while the varied pattern (wen) of their plumage is a symbol of literary cultivation (also wen). Luo contrasts their stoic endurance with the agitated movement of dozens of circling crows—a reference to petty opportunists.

#7359. Old Trees, Pheasants, and Crows in Winter

Crows in Old Trees, Luo Zhichuan (Chinese, active ca. 1300–30), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, China

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