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Artist: Bada Shanren 八大山人 (朱耷) (1626-1705)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, ca. 1665
Ink on paper
H x W (.1: image): 25.4 x 33.6 cm (10 x 13 1/4 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
Album, Painting


China, flower, lotus, 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 3, 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


This exquisite album of ink-lotuses is among the earliest surviving works by Bada Shanren. Painted while the artist was still living as a monk, the eight leaves bear many of his Buddhist names--such as Fajue, Chuanqi, and Ren'an--either in signatures or in seal impressions. Symbolizing Buddhist ideals of purity and rebirth, lotuses remained an important subject for Bada throughout his career, and he constantly varied his use of the flower as a compositional element.

Here he has left the center of most compositions void, with the plants seeming to dangle or thrust into the picture from outside the frame. Some commentators have suggested that such fragmentary images indicate that the world was imperfect in the eyes of this former prince, who was then living clandestinely under the alien Manchu regime. Whatever the validity of such a psychological reading, these paintings are a glowing testament to the enormous talent and creativity of this unique individual during his early years as an artist and presage his subsequent transition from a figure of Ming royalty turned Buddhist monk into a professional Qing-dynasty painter and calligrapher.

Published References
  • Artists' Pigments: A Handbook of their History and Characteristics. 4 vols., New York, Cambridge and Washington. vol. 4: p. 8, fig. 3.
  • 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. 1, pp. 30-37.
  • Yuan Li. "近距离阅读大师." Exploring the Enigmas of Bada Shanren – Freer’s Special Exhibition Review., 284. Shanghai, May 2016. F1998.53.8, p. 66.
  • 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. 248-249, 262, fig. 4, cover.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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