(Chinese, active 1300s)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
Overall: 119.7 x 66.4 cm (47 1/8 x 26 1/8 in.)
Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.498
Although the evergreen pine does not indicate a time of year, the lively activity of the squirrel and the insect suggest a warm season.
This painting captures a squirrel in action, distracted and twisting its head while climbing and looking at a little bug to the right. The painter skillfully employs a combination of ink washes and fine brushstrokes to simulate the animal’s fur. Only three simple curved lines depict the squirrel’s claws.
The subject of squirrels did not appear in Chinese painting before the late Southern Song (1127–1279) and Yuan periods (1279–1368). The painter Songtian was one of the few Yuan painters who specialized in this theme.
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