Apr 21, 2004
Apr 21, 2004
May 11, 2010
May 11, 2010




c. 1400

China, Ming dynasty


Hanging scroll, ink and slight color on silk

Painting: 35.1 x 53.3 cm (13 13/16 x 21 in.); Overall with knobs: 124.8 x 72.5 cm (49 1/8 x 28 9/16 in.)

Gift of Herbert F. Leisy in memory of his wife, Helen Stamp Leisy 1977.201



Four fish of various sizes are swimming among aquatic plants. Like in other paintings, the existence of water is suggested in the harmonious movement of the fish and plants. In Chinese, the word for fish (yu) is a homophone for “abundance” and thus the motif has an auspicious connotation.

The painter uses the so-called boneless technique without outlines to shade and texture the bodies of the fish. The smooth transition from dark shades on their backs to their white bellies and the thin transparent fins and tails in light washes accentuated by gills and scales are all executed without contour lines.

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