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Anonymous Chinese
(15th century)

“Ducks in Reeds”

Hanging scroll, ink on silk
130.5 x 69.0 (51 3/8 x 27 1/4 in.)

Collectors seals:
Two, illegible

Swiftly drawn reeds and dottings of grass define a foreground bank on which the two ducks rest.  Subtle variations in ink tonality create a sense of atmosphere as well as define a sense of spatial recession from fore to background, where one imagines a mist-covered river. This stage-like composition as well as the organization of forms along a diagonal axis harks back to late Song (960-1279) paintings, an approach that was continued throughout the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and into the Ming (1368-1644) era.

A somewhat similar approach in composition and brushwork can be found in the works of Lin Liang (ca.1440-ca.1505), suggesting an approximate date for the present painting.

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