crested white bird and crested brown bird perched on the branches of a gnarled, twisting tree with pink blossoms; blossoming tree is intertwined with a willow tree, with a rock between the two tree trunks; low grasses on ground

Two Magpies on Willow and Peach Trees, 1774

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In China, willows and peach trees are likened to a pair of lovers, and here their branches are intertwined. A pair of magpies, known to bring wealth and have divine power, sit in the trees with the female above seeming to look down critically at her partner’s singing. Yosa Buson, a poet and prolific painter, drew from a variety of sources for his paintings. The inspiration for this large work is unmistakably Shen Nanpin (also known as Shen Quan, c. 1682–1760), an older Chinese contemporary of Buson’s who lived and worked in the Japanese city of Nagasaki briefly during the early 1730s and attracted many Japanese followers. Shen’s colorful, realistic pictures of birds and flowers proved extremely popular in Japan in the mid-1700s, and he continued to send works back to Japan even after his return to China in 1733.

Exhibitions
Details
Title
Two Magpies on Willow and Peach Trees
Artist Life
1716 - 1783
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.126
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 313
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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crested white bird and crested brown bird perched on the branches of a gnarled, twisting tree with pink blossoms; blossoming tree is intertwined with a willow tree, with a rock between the two tree trunks; low grasses on ground