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BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)
Through The Enigmatic Eyes: Barren Tree and Birds by Bada ShanrenRelatively few of Bada Shanren’s late works in the xinsi year (1701) are extant, and Barren Tree and Birds is certainly one of the most important masterpieces created during his later years. As such, it has been an object of academic research and publication ever since the 1940s.A descendant of the fallen Ming imperial family, Bada Shanren’s glum sentiment observed in his oeuvre is often also infused with Zen (Chan) philosophy. In Barren Tree and Birds he uses sparse yet swift brushstrokes, ink washes of various intensities, as well as a mixture of dry and wet applications, to craft a simple subject of a pair of birds seen here. The presentation reflects a recluse’s observation of the world—he is detached, yet concerned about the organic details which he meticulously renders. He arranges the main elements diagonally in this composition. On the lower-right is a bird perched on a barren tree: a quiet, static scene with heavy ink applications. On the top-left is a diving bird, ready to pierce through the serenity of the lower section with its speedy approach. The opposition posed by the birds, in ink tonality as well as postures, injects a little humour into the work.Barren Tree and Birds was first documented in the 1940 publication Hachidai sanjin gafu (Paintings of Bada Shanren) when it belonged to Sakuragi Shunichi, a Japanese from Nagoya who worked in the South Manchuria Railway Co. Ltd. in Shanghai from 1914 to 1924. It was further published in Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Paintings compiled by Kei Suzuki in 1983 and Master of the Lotus Garden: The Life and Art of Bada Shanren (1626-1705) by Wang Fangyu and Richard M. Barhart in 1990. A pivotal masterpiece not to be missed.PROPERTY OF AN ASIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOT 889)
BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)

Barren Tree and Birds

Details
BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)
Barren Tree and Birds
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
127.5 x 43.2 cm. (50 ¼ x 17 in.)
Signed, and dated tenth month, xinsi year (1701) with two seals of the artist
Provenance
Sakuragi Shunichi collection.
Literature
Hachidai sanjin gafu (Paintings of Bada Shanren), Jurakusha, Tokyo, 1940, pl.42.
Kei Suzuki ed., Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Paintings Vol. 4 Japanese Collections: Temples and Individuals, University of Tokyo Press, 1983, p. IV-527, IV-653, pl. JP 71-003.
Wang Fangyu and Richard M. Barhart, Master of the Lotus Garden: The Life and Art of Bada Shanren (1626-1705), Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1990, p.273.

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