Fish and Rocks

Fish and Rocks


mid- to late 1600s

Bada Shanren 八大山人

(Chinese, 1626-1705)

Handscroll, ink on paper

Overall: 29.2 x 157.4 cm (11 1/2 x 61 15/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1953.247


Did you know?

After each poem, Bada Shanren used his so-called jixingyin seal 屐形印, which resembles the impression of a shoe on soft mud.


Bada Shanren, also called Zhu Da, a 17th-century painter who rejected conventions in favor of an individual, personal expression, is known for his unorthodox compositions of fish, flowers, birds, and rocks. Fish in his paintings are often looking upward toward heaven, swimming in a pond of undefined space.

As a member of the Ming imperial family, Zhu Da lost his princely status and hid in a monastery when the Manchus, foreigners from the north, established the Qing dynasty in 1644. This scroll may have some autobiographical meaning, representing fish as leftover subjects (yimin) who lived in a void, having lost their roles in life after the fall of the dynasty.

See also
ASIAN - Handscroll
Chinese Art
Type of artwork: 

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