Cat and Butterflies

Maker(s)
Artist: Qi Baishi 齊白石 (1864-1957)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, before 1937
Medium
Ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (image): 131 x 28.1 cm (51 9/16 x 11 1/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Bequest from the collection of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai, donated in their memory by Mr. Shao F. Wang
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1998.74
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
butterfly, cat, China, Modern period (1912 - present), Shao F. Wang collection, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

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

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Note 2, Joseph Chang, May 7, 1998, and Joseph Chang, August 18, 1998, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

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

Label

Qi Baishi was among the most renowned painters of his time and a modern master. He drew inspiration from classical motifs but gave them his own twist. The combination of a cat and a butterfly forms the rebus "mao die," a reference to "seventy or eighty years of life," which was equated with longevity. A sense of humor must have compelled Qi to paint this for Xu Beihong (1895-1954), another famous artist of the time, who was almost three decades younger. Qi was a playful artist who often incorporated humor into his work, but in this painting he still managed to preserve the tradition of respecting one's elders.

Published References
  • 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. 262-263.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
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.