Cormorants in Misty Moonlight

Artist: Formerly attributed to Cui Bai (active mid- to late 11th century) Follower of Lü Ji (ca. 1420-ca. 1505)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Late 16th century
Zhe School
Hanging scroll mounted on panel; ink on silk
H x W (image): 152.7 x 96.9 cm (60 1/8 x 38 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, cormorant, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), moon, willow tree
Provenance research underway.

Pale, lucid ink strokes and horizontal washes create the atmosphere of a breezeless, moonlit night at the water's edge. Three cormorants rest under drooping willow branches; one cranes it neck toward the moon, while its companions doze. The artist exerted only light pressure on the brush, using watery, swiftly executed strokes to create an almost sketch-like effect. The fake inscription dated 1142 at upper right falsely attributes this work to the eleventh-century bird-and-flower painter Cui Bai; however, judging from its composition and loose, quick brushwork, this scroll was probably executed by a follower of the late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century artist Lü Ji.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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