Artist: Ma Lin (Chinese, ca. 1180– after 1256)

Period: Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)

Date: second quarter of the 13th century

Culture: China

Medium: Album leaf; ink and color on silk

Dimensions: Image: 10 7/16 x 8 7/8 in. (26.5 x 22.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973

Accession Number: 1973.120.10


This exquisite representation of an orchid, signed by Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan (active ca. 1190–1225), exemplifies the style of formal realism favored by the aristocratic Southern Song court. The simple asymmetrical balance of flowers and leaves, meticulously rendered in subtle shades of lavender, white, and malachite green, bespeaks a consciously aestheticizing sensibility. Such flower paintings recall late Southern Song lyric poems about flowers.