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Lotus and Ducks

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Lotus and Ducks


Bada Shanren

Chinese, 1626-1705

Bada Shanren (Man of the Eight Great Mountains) famously transformed innocuous motifs like birds, fish, and rocks into tense scenes pregnant with psychological drama. Here, a duck gazes suspiciously at the threat of the lotus leaf above his head, and the rock encroaches upon the pine tree’s space. These paintings may be part of a group painted on expensive bolts of decorative satin provided by a patron.

One of China’s most celebrated artists, Bada Shanren often wove together poetic word games, tensile calligraphy, and enigmatic pictorial imagery in mysterious yet profound combinations. He suffered from mental illness (or pretended to act mad and mute) after the shock of the Manchu invasion of China. As a prince of the fallen Ming dynasty, Bada's life was in danger, and he retreated into the safety of monkhood; art became an important outlet for expressing his difficulties.
Ink on satin
Overall (each scroll): 95 3/8 x 25 in. (242.3 x 63.5cm)
Image (each scroll): 67 1/8 x 17 1/8 in. (170.5 x 43.5cm)
General Acquisition Fund, Asian Art Acquisition Fund, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, Eve and Chap Alvord, James and Jane Hawkanson, Chinese Art Support Fund, the Asian Art Council, Seattle Art Museum Supporters, Frank S. Bayley III, Anne and Steve Lipner, Arnold Endowment in Support of Chinese Art, Rebecca and Alexander Stewart, Charlene and Jerry Lee, Omar and Christine Lee, David and Daphne Tang, William and Ruth True, Laurie and David Ying, and Friends of Mimi Gardner Gates, in honor of Mimi Gardner Gates
Provenance: Kang Youwei [by repute]; unknown Japanese collector; Gong Jisui
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Luminous: The Art of Asia, Oct. 13, 2011 - Jan. 8, 2012.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view Feb. 8, 2020 - July 11, 2021].

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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