Two hawks in a thicket

Artist: Lin Liang (Chinese, ca. 1416–1480)

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: mid- 15th century

Culture: China

Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk

Dimensions: Image: 58 5/8 x 32 3/4 in. (148.9 x 83.2 cm)
Overall with mounting: 108 1/2 x 39 in. (275.6 x 99.1 cm)
Overall with knobs: 108 1/2 x 43 7/8 in. (275.6 x 111.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Bei Shan Tang Foundation, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.385


One of the leading court painters of bird-and-flower scenes, 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hawks silhouetted against the sky and surveying their surroundings from a high perch, however, these noble birds appear withdrawn and reclusive, inviolable and inaccessible, as if lost in a dense forest of old trees and thick bamboo where no one could possibly reach them.