Lü Ji (ca. 1429-ca. 1505), Apricot Blossoms and Peacocks. Ming dynasty

Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 203.4 x 110.6 cm

In China, the peony is associated with wealth and the peacock with splendor. One of the Chinese characters in "peacock" is also a homonym for "noble rank," so this bird symbolizes the rank and position of a high official. Therefore, all elements conform to the atmosphere at court while suggesting scenery from an imperial garden. The brushwork throughout the painting is steady and fine, and the application of blue-and-green colors with lead-white is not temperamental, giving the work a solemn and quiet feeling very much in the manner of Lü Ji. Despite the repetitiveness of the texturing in the tree and rocks along with the patterned sparrows, it could still be a work that Lü Ji had completed with assistants at his studio and thereby retaining the original appearance of his style. Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum