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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Blossoming Plum

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Blossoming Plum


Qi Baishi

Chinese, 1864 - 1957

With unassuming brushstrokes of various textures, saturation, and tonalities—from demure gray to jet black—the artist presents a gnarled tree trunk issuing a lattice of animated plum branches. The picture stands apart from Qi Baishi’s later works with their bright color and freer brushwork. It was dedicated to famed translator Lin Shu (1852–1924) for his birthday. The ancient plum painting genre had nearly a millennium of devoted scholarly practitioners. Qi refers here to the manner of Jin Nong (1687–1764) by capturing the plum’s life cycle in a single image, with blossoms at various stages of opening, in combination with columns of angular, powerfully graphic calligraphy. Deeply literate Lin would have appreciated such references and the flattering scholar’s subject.
Ink on paper
Overall: 80 1/8 x 20 13/16 in. (203.5 x 52.9 cm)
Image: 46 7/8 x 14 5/8 in. (119.1 x 37.1 cm)
Gift of Lillian Strand with additional funds from Cheney Cowles
Provenance: China 2000 Fine Art; 1999 gifted to SAM by Lillian Strand with additional funds from Cheney Cowles
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective, Dec. 22, 2007 - July 26, 2009.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view July 28, 2022 - Jan. 8, 2023].

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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