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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Two Hawks on an Aged Juniper

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Two Hawks on an Aged Juniper

ca. 1450

Xiao Haishan

Chinese, active 1457 - 64

Spotting possible prey, one of a pair of hawks opens its beak and spreads long talons in anticipation. A tiny bird flies away in terror while its companion looks on, still unaware of the danger. The juniper branches have jagged, twisted forms depicted with slashing brushstrokes as if to suggest the violence about to unfold. Many Ming-dynasty court painters favored the subject of hawks, a subject associated with courage and majesty (hence royalty) because the word “hawk” is a pun for “hero.” The artist inscribed his name and station as “Embroidered-uniform guard attending Wuying Hall.” Multiple generations of the Xiao family apparently enjoyed imperial favor as court painters titled as imperial guards.
Ink and color on silk
Overall: 125 5/8 x 46 5/16 in. (326.7 x 117.6cm)
Image: 70 7/8 x 38 7/16 in. (180 x 97.6cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: [Gump’s, San Francisco]
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Painters of the Great Ming: The Imperial Court and the Zhe School, Mar. 10 - May 9, 1993.

Seattle, 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 16 - Dec. 5, 2021].
Published ReferencesWang, Yaoting 王耀庭, Niao bu meng long, Que ding shi xiao hai shan—Xiyatu yi shu bo wu guan cang Zhepai hui hua yanjiu er 鳥不朦朧,確定是蕭海山——西雅圖藝術博物館藏浙派繪畫研究二. Diancang Gu Meishu, 237, 2012/6: 143-152.

Toda, Teisuke and Hiromitsu Ogawa. Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Paintings: Second Series. (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1998). See pp. I-362 & I-268, cat. #A55-027.

Barnhart, Richard M., Painters of the Great Ming: the Imperial Court and the Zhe School, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1993), cat. 34: 102-103.

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