grapevine with abundant grape clusters, tendrils, and scattered leaves; three small squirrels climbing the vine

Grapevine and Squirrels, 18th-19th century

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The Chinese monk artist Tzu-wen Jih-kuan first popularized ink monochrome paintings of grapes during the 13th century. The twisting vines, curling tendrils and round, plump grapes provided ample opportunity for expressive "brush play." They may also have been painting to express the scholar-artist's fondness for wine. The combination of squirrels and grapevines, as seen here, is actually a rebus, or word pun. In Korean, the word for "squirrel" sounds like "pine," and the word for "grape" sounds like "peach." Since pines and peaches are longstanding symbols of long life in China and Korea, squirrels and grapes, when pronounced, is a playful wish for continued good health.

Exhibitions
Details
Title
Grapevine and Squirrels
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.526
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 1014
Curator Approved

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grapevine with abundant grape clusters, tendrils, and scattered leaves; three small squirrels climbing the vine