Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
Image: 123.3 x 45 cm (48 9/16 x 17 11/16 in.); Overall with knobs: 213 x 67.3 cm (83 7/8 x 26 1/2 in.)
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1977.31
With its wings partially lifted and sharp beak open in expectation, the eagle seems intent on some unseen prey below.
Huang Shen’s swift painting style is reflected in his writing. While the vertical line in running script style calligraphy (caoshu) counterbalances the eagle on a tree trunk, the vine twisting its way up continues the fluency of the brushwork, creating a superb composition. The rendering of eagles is exceptional in his work.
A native of Fujian, Huang Shen came to Yangzhou in 1724 to make his living as a painter in a city of wealthy merchants. Huang needed years to develop a style that met the taste of his clients. He eventually became known as a figure painter and as one of the Eccentrics from Yangzhou, a group of local artists known for their unorthodox painting style. According to his inscription, Huang executed this painting at age 69, two days before the Lantern Festival in 1755.
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