A painting of a hanging branch filled with white blossoms.

Wang Qian Chinese, active mid 15th century, Ming dynasty Plum Blossom, 1454 Ink on paper The John R. Van Derlip Fund 43.5

Beyond the Fragrance: Beauty & Symbolism in Chinese Flower & Bird Painting

December 1, 2018 - June 2, 2019
Gallery 203
Free Exhibition

“Beyond the Fragrance” explores the motifs of flowers and birds that are ubiquitous in Chinese art. China’s enduring fascination with these motifs arises not only from their natural beauty, but also from their cultural associations. Often they are suffused with poetic overtones or imbued with social, political, or religious meaning. The symbolism that accumulated around flower-and-bird motifs was determined, intellectually and practically, by the imperial court, with both Daoists and Buddhists adding significant influence. Depictions of these motifs range in style and technique over time, but are all dazzling in their ability to convey simultaneously both natural beauty and symbolic meaning.