Small Birds, Bamboo and Rocks

Artist: Bada Shanren 八大山人 (朱耷) (1626-1705) Addition and two colophons by Zhang Daqian 張大千 (China, 1899-1983)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1692
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 164 x 90.6 cm (64 9/16 x 35 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Bequest from the collection of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai, donated in their memory by Mr. Shao F. Wang
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

bamboo, bird, China, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Shao F. Wang collection

To 1997
Wang Fangyu (1913-1997) and Sum Wai (1918-1996), to 1997 [1]

To 1998
Shao F. Wang, New York and Short Hills, NJ, by descent, to 1998 [2]

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Shao F. Wang in 1998


[1] According to Curatorial Note 1, Joseph Chang and Stephen D. Allee, May 7, 1998, and Joseph Chang and Stephen D. Allee, August 18, 1998, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Shao F. Wang
Wang Fangyu 1913-1997
Sum Wai 1918-1996


In its current form, this painting is particularly unusual in that only two-thirds were actually painted by Bada Shanren. The remaining third (on the right) was added by the modern painter and collector Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), who believed the work to have been much larger originally than when he acquired it in the early 1950s. Both brushwork and ink tonality provide viewers with a vivid example of the differences between Bada Shanren's approach and that of his most important and prolific recent forger, Zhang Daqian. These differences can be further explored in the related paintings exhibited on the walls to left and right, one by each artist.

Zhang attached two strips of paper to either side of Bada's original painting, inscribed his own colophon, and "restored" a corner of the rock and foreground on the right side by adding a few strokes. As he states in his 1952 inscription: "Modern enthusiasts [of painting] prize small hanging scrolls the most, with around three feet as the norm. This custom has spread throughout north and south alike, but is particularly prevalent in the Wuzhong [region of Jiangsu Province]. There, whenever a dealer of antiquities comes across a large-scale hanging scroll, he will chop it down in size hoping to better his price. The damage [such a practice has inflicted] on the heart's blood of earlier masters is more vicious and cruel than [the tortures of] an executioner. On acquiring this scroll recently in Hong Kong, I felt sorry for its broken state and got the idea of adding a few strokes to fix it up. While I could not make it shine like the masterpiece it once was, or immediately restore the painting to its former appearance, I privately compare [my added brushstrokes] to a blind man's cane: As consolation, they are better than nothing. "

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • Joseph Chang, Quianshen Bai, (Catalogue) Stephen Allee. In Pursuit of Heavenly Harmony: Paintings and Calligraphy by Bada Shanren from the Bequest of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 4, pp. 44-45.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 244-251.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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