Lin Liang (Chinese, ca. 1416–ca. 1480)
Hanging scroll; ink and pale color on silk
58 9/16 x 33 1/16 in. (149 x 84 cm)
Gift of Bei Shan Tang Foundation, 1993 (1993.385)
One of the leading court painters of bird-and-flower painting, the Cantonese artist Lin Liang specialized in bold, expressive, monochrome depictions of birds in the wild.
Never before had there been such hawks as those painted by Lin Liang. Standing like monuments to strength and courage on the highest frozen peaks, swept by bitter winds, living in worlds that lesser creatures could not inhabit, Lin's great birds are embodiments of heroism. In contrast to his usual image of hawks silhouetted against the sky and surveying their surroundings from a high perch, however, the noble birds seen in this painting appear withdrawn and reclusive, depicted as if lost in a dense forest of old trees and thick bamboo where no one could possibly reach them, inviolable and inaccessible.