Ink and color on silk panel
Painting: 167.2 x 98.4 cm (65 13/16 x 38 3/4 in.); Overall framed: 189.3 x 114.5 cm (74 1/2 x 45 1/16 in.)
Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1915.710
Two eagles, painted in fine brushwork, perch on top of rocks surrounded by water, flowering camellia, and other vegetation, brushed in sweeping and broad strokes. Among birds, a favorite subject in Chinese painting, depictions of eagles can be traced back to at least the fourth century.
Due to dramatic sociopolitical changes during the foreign-ruled Yuan (1279–1368) and native Ming dynasties, an elaborate symbolic language of the eagle developed. It can represent a vicious attacker, a courageous hero, or an enlightened emperor. In this painting, the two eagles are depicted peacefully resting in a lofty position, perhaps an idealistic image for a wise emperor and empress.
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