late 1400s-early 1500
(Chinese, c. 1430-c. 1500)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Painting: 240 x 195.5 cm (94 1/2 x 76 15/16 in.); Overall with knobs: 280 x 204 cm (110 1/4 x 80 5/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1974.31
The peahen is plucking a dandelion.
This scroll depicts a spring scene with all kinds of birds, including one peacock with a hen among peonies. The painting is one of four surviving works by Yin Hong bearing his signature and seals. Some scholars debate whether this work depicts the theme “One Hundred Birds admiring the Phoenix,” a metaphor for human society presenting an idealized hierarchy under imperial rule; other scholars argue that peafowls, as exotic birds not native to China, would not be depicted to represent the emperor.
This large painting might have been hung in a palace hall and may have been part of a set depicting the four seasons.
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