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Gum tempera, ink, and gold on paper
Overall: 20.3 x 14 cm (8 x 5 1/2 in.); Painting only: 6 x 10.3 cm (2 3/8 x 4 1/16 in.)
Gift of Mrs. A. Dean Perry 1962.279.114.a
The same word is used in Persian for both “lion” and “tiger.”
The painting depicts an old tiger, crouching under a tree by a stream looking plaintively at a wolf, with whom he has just shared his troubles with the mice. The wolf suggested that the cat be called to eliminate the mice. The cat has dutifully arrived and requests that he be given the position of Magistrate of the Court, to which the lion agreed. The cat instilled fear in the mice; they dispersed, and the lion was content. Wisely, however, the cat treated the mice with consideration and did not exterminate them completely, so that he would not eliminate the cause of his usefulness. Although the rocky landscape is heavily shaded in a technique that gives them a soft quality, and the leaves of the tree are each outlined in gold, the lack of any actual shadows from an identifiable light source provides a timeless appearance to the scene.
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