Bird-and-flower painting

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Bird-and-flower painting
Qian Xuan - Early Autumn.jpg
Early Autumn, 13th century, by Song loyalist painter Qian Xuan. The decaying lotus leaves and dragonflies hovering over stagnant water are likely a veiled criticism of Mongol rule.[1]
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 花鳥畫
Simplified Chinese 花鸟画
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet Hoa điểu hoạ
Chữ Hán
Korean name
Hangul 화조화
Hanja 花鳥畵
Japanese name
Kanji 花鳥画

Bird-and-flower painting (in chinese 花鸟画) is a kind of Chinese painting named after its subject matter. Normally, most bird-and-flower paintings belong to the scholar-artist style of Chinese painting.


Bird-and-flower painting by Cai Han and Jin Xiaozhu, c. 17th century.

According to Chinese tradition, bird-and-flower painting covers "flowers, birds, fish, and insects" (Traditional Chinese: 花鳥魚蟲, Simplified Chinese: 花鸟鱼虫 huā, niǎo, yú, chóng). It can thus deal with a wide range of natural topics, including flowers (plants), fish, insects, birds, pets (dogs, cats) etc.

The huaniao hua (花鳥畫) or "bird-and-flower painting" is proper of 10th century China. The most representative artists are Huang Quan 哳㥳 (c. 900 – 965) and Xu Xi 徐熙 (937–975). They are the masters of two schools: the first school was led by Huang Quan (imperial painter). It is characterised by an "outline" method of brush work, with emphasis on bright colours filling a meticulously outline (gongbi). The other school was led by Xu Xi (never entered into officialdom) and typically used techniques associated with ink-and-wash painting.[2]

Kingfisher and iris kachō-e woodblock print by Ohara Koson (late 19th century)

The bird-and-flower motif started appearing in Japanese art around the Muromachi period of the 14th century, and developed its own distinct style. It also entered ukiyo-e woodblock printing, where it was known as kachō-e (花鳥絵). Especially the shin hanga movement produced a number of works with this motif starting in the Meiji era. Artists working with this were Ohara Koson (1877–1945) and Ito Sozan (1884–?), as well as Imao Keinen (1845–1924).[3][4]


According to painting technique:

  • Ink wash painting (水墨花鳥/水墨花鳥畫). Representatives: Lin Liang (林良), Qi Baishi (齊白石), Zhang Daqian (張大千)
  • Fine-brush (工筆花鳥/工筆花鳥畫)
    • Fine-brush with Ink and Wash Painting (工筆水墨/兼工帶水墨). Representatives: Lin Liang (林良), Ren Yi (任頤)
    • Fine-brush with Colour (工彩)
      • Fine-brush with Heavy Colour (工筆重彩)
      • Fine-brush with Light Colour (工筆淡彩). Representatives: Emperor Huizong (趙佶), Lü Ji (呂紀), Lin Liang (林良)
  • Freehand style (寫意花鳥/寫意花鳥畫)
    • Great Freehand style (大寫意)
    • Slight Freehand style (小寫意). Representatives: Tang Yin (唐寅), Xu Wei (徐渭), Wu Changshuo (吳昌碩), Ren Yi (任頤)
  • Fine-brush with Freehand style (兼工帶寫)

See also


  1. ^ "Early Autumn (29.1)". Detroit Institute of Arts. Archived from the original on 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2008-12-18.
  2. ^ Marco, Meccarelli. 2015. "Chinese Painters in Nagasaki: Style and Artistic Contaminatio during the Tokugawa Period (1603–1868)" Ming Qing Studies 2015, Pages 175–236.
  3. ^ "hanga gallery . . . torii gallery: Bird and Flower Prints".
  4. ^ "Keinen kacho gafu 景年花鳥画譜 (Album of Bird-and-Flower Pictures by Keinen)". British Museum.

External links

Media related to Bird-and-flower paintings at Wikimedia Commons

  • Chinese Flower Painting at China Online Museum
  • Chinese Bird Painting at China Online Museum
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