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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.

 

 
 
 
SHOUMIN BIAN
Chinese, 1683 - 1752
Geese Descending on a Sandbank
1730
Ink and slight color on paper

101 x 37 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase funded by the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund

Arts of Asia
 
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Celebrated 18th-century painter, poet, and calligrapher Bian Shoumin had a profound admiration for nature. He specialized in paintings of waterfowl and even built his home in Jiangxi Province near Lake Zhu so that he could closely observe such birds as the geese depicted in this hanging scroll.
   
Bian's lively and naturalistic style, particularly his use of strokes of varying tones to form the birds' bodies, recalls the Xieyi, or Life Sketches, school of painting developed during the Ming dynasty (14th-17th century). Here, the areas of unpainted paper suggest a dense fog into which the long blades of grass disappear. The subject of migrating geese is intended to evoke the feel of autumn. The inscription in the upper left corner of the painting displays Bian Shoumin's talent as a poet:

Just now wild geese came into the sky,        
As I waved my brush before the master of the qin [zither];    
Autumn sounds meld with autumn thoughts     
As I stand beside I know not who.