Painting dated 1103, but probably done later.

Swan and Cygnets, 15th century


Ink and color on silkexpand_more

Gift of Miss Alice O'Brienexpand_more  62.70.8

Not on Viewexpand_more

This painting is typical of professional flower-and-bird paintings of the early Ming period in its clear reference to older Song dynasty styles. With the overthrow of the Mongols in 1368 and the restoration of native rule, the tendency to emulate the highly accomplished art forms of the pre-Mongol era was quite pronounced.

Wu Yuanyu, whose apocryphal name appears on this scroll, was a military officer in the Song courts of Emperor Shenzong (reigned 1068-1085) and Zhezong (reigned 1086-1094). He worked in the academy of painting and this portrayal of a swan and its cygnets, which forms a pair with a painting of the same subject matter, typifies the so-called Song academic style. Even though it was painted well after the time of Wu Yuanyu, it accurately captures the likeness and spirit of the earlier style.

Swan and Cygnets
Artist Life
active 1080-1104
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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Painting dated 1103, but probably done later.