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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Eagle on a Branch

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Eagle on a Branch

ca. 1928

Teng Gui

Chinese, 1900–1980

The “writing” part of Tobey’s technique actually developed in Seattle in the 1920s, when he came under the influence of a young Chinese painter who was studying at the University of Washington—Teng Baiye. While Teng gave Tobey lessons in calligraphy, his own art transformed the way Tobey came to see and draw the world around him. Teng’s specialty was finger painting, as this example demonstrates. He created such drawings in ink on wet paper using only his finger and fingernail, calling up the image from his imagination and dazzling a rapt audience.
Ink and color on paper
20 7/8 x 15 1/8 in. (53.02 x 38.42 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Martha J. Van Houten
Provenance: Martha J. Van Houten
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Modernism in the Pacific Northwest: The Mythic and the Mystical, June 19 - Sept. 7, 2014. Text by Patricia Junker. No cat. no., p. 35, reproduced p. 36, fig. 10.
Published ReferencesBalken, Debra Bricker. Mark Tobey: Threading Light. New York: Skira Rizzoli in association with the Addison Gallery of American Art, 2017; p. 54, reproduced fig. 13.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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