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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

Standing alone and aloof on a rock, the majestic hawk clearly represents power. Together with the bamboo, which is a symbol of integrity, the strength alluded to in this painting is not brute force, but rather fearless and unwavering determination. Given the fact that the artist, Zhang Mu, lived during the turbulent period of Ming-Qing dynastic transition, when the Han Chinese succumbed to the Manchus, it is plausible that this painting conveyed deeper meaning than a pure representation of a hawk in ink. The exact meaning and the context of its production remain to be determined.

A native of Guangdong in south China, Zhang was not associated with the more famous, lineages or schools of his contemporaries. Yet he was a recognized painter of horses, and a number of his horse paintings are in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art. While historical sources also credit Zhang for excelling in hawk painting, this is arguably the best extant work to support the literary evidence of the period; another hawk painting dated 1666 in the Guangdong Provincial Museum features a less grand hawk in a simpler setting. Hawk on a Rock demonstrates Zhang's debt to an earlier Cantonese (southern) Chinese painter who excelled in hawk painting, namely Lin Liang (active ca. 1488–1505). Two Hawks on an Aged Juniper, a work by one of Lin's followers, a court artist named Xiao Haishan (active mid-15th century) is in SAM’s collection (33.1676). Viewed together with this example, one can see how the genre and meaning of hawk painting has evolved over time.

Robert Shields may have been known as “one of the Grand Old Men in Northwest architecture” (Pacific Northwest Magazine), but it is his enduring passion for art that leaves a lasting legacy at SAM. When Mr Shields passed away in the summer of 2012, he left his entire estate to the Seattle Art Museum, its value to be used in support of the Asian art program.

One of the foremost Northwest architects of the mid-20th century, Mr Shields graduated from the University of Washington with an architecture degree in 1941. After serving in the Navy in WWII, he returned to Seattle and founded the architecture firm Tucker, Shields and Terry in 1946. Over the course of the next 30 years he established a reputation as one of the foremost Northwest architects as he designed homes, commercial spaces, the KIRO-TV headquarters, and Canlis restaurant.

A champion of Northwest art and artists (he counted Zoe Dusanne, Don Foster, Morris Graves, and Kenneth Callahan among his friends), Mr Shields was also passionate about Asian and Native American art, as well as European decorative arts; and he collected in all of these areas. He was a member of the museum’s Asian Art Council, the Seattle Clay Club, and the Puget Sound Bonsai Society. In honor of the opening of SAM Downtown in 1991, he donated several Japanese objects and a Morris Graves painting to the collection.
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 HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective, Dec. 22, 2007-July 26, 2009

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

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.

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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