The Freer Gallery shows "Winged Spirits: Birds in Chinese Painting"
Washington, D.C.- The Freer Gallery at the Freer and Sackler is pleased to present “Winged Spirits: Birds in Chinese Painting” on view through August 5th. In Chinese culture many birds are endowed with strong symbolic associations, both on their own and especially in combination with certain auspicious flowers. In the tenth century, birds and flowers emerged as major themes in traditional Chinese painting. At first such images were based on the close observation of nature and employed fine detail and color; later they derived from the painting tradition itself and often were rendered in only ink. While the primary interest of many artists was to capture the essence or spirit of their subjects, most birds in the paintings can be scientifically identified. More than thirty-five species of birds are depicted in flight, on the ground or in water, or perched on tree branches. A delight for bird – and art – lovers alike, the sumptuously colored paintings represent the finest of avian and flower art from the Ming and Qing dynasties (15th-18th centuries).