Insects and Flowers

Insects and Flowers

草蟲圖卷

c. 1900

Handscroll, ink and color on paper

Overall: 30.5 x 799 cm (12 x 314 9/16 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1915.617

Description

More than 26 feet long, this scroll presents insects, reptiles, and plants in delicate brushwork and pale colors, referring in style to earlier Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) bird-and-flower paintings. Upon closer inspection, ants dismember a butterfly and reptiles wait to ambush their prey.

An inscription at the end of the painting gives us an idea of its meaning: Attributed to the Qing dynasty scholar Zhang Xigeng (張錫庚, 1801–1861), the inscriber relates the work to an earlier painting by Qian Xuan (錢選, c. 1235–before 1307) and further suggests that the painting may allude to the relentlessness of natural selection. By drawing a parallel to tumultuous episodes in Chinese history, the writer might even hint at the domestic rebellions and the aggression of Western powers against China in his lifetime, particularly the Opium Wars (1839–60).

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.