Crouching Cat

Artist: Bada Shanren 八大山人 (朱耷) (1626-1705)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1699
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

cat, 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


Bada Shanren created several paintings of cats over his career, most of which show the animal sleeping or at rest with tucked legs and tail, closed eyes, and a distinctly humped back. In such works, the stillness of the pose is suggestive of the Chan meditational practices in which Bada engaged as a Buddhist monk.

The cats in these paintings are rendered either in soft outline or rich, moist washes of ink, appearing as single images or with a simple prop, such as a rock, with which they seem to merge into a natural, organic whole. In this unique work, however, the image of a wide-awake, upwardly gazing cat is considerably different in mood, composition, and brushwork. Here, the animal appears as part of a full, natural setting with which it dynamically interacts, and instead of a two-dimensional cutout figure, its body possesses a sense of real physical volume and three-dimensionality. While Bada used shaded tones of wet, layered ink to paint the surrounding landscape, as contrast he employed dry, pale ink to depict the figure of the cat and carefully rendered its face and fur with decisive, linear brushstrokes. This scroll is Bada's latest dated cat painting.

Published References
  • Yuan Li. "近距离阅读大师." Exploring the Enigmas of Bada Shanren – Freer’s Special Exhibition Review., 284. Shanghai, May 2016. p. 66.
  • 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. 19, pp. 96-97.
  • 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
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.