Mynah Birds and Leaping Squirrel

Artist: Hua Yan (1682-1756)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1730s-40s
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 134.5 x 60.3 cm (52 15/16 x 23 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, mynah bird, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), squirrel
Provenance research underway.

Hua Yan apprenticed in the family business of papermaking, but ultimately became a well-known painter. He specialized in depictions of amusing, animated birds and animals, and developed a personal style of dry, light brushwork. Some of Hua Yan's paintings can be read as social commentary. This scroll may have been created as political satire, since a squirrel can symbolize a small-minded, greedy man who nonetheless achieves high position.

Most of Hua Yan's paintings incorporate a brief inscription. This combination of pictorial imagery and calligraphy is typical of eighteenth-century Qing dynasty style and is seen in both paintings and porcelain design. Artists in these two media also found common ground in the use of similar motifs.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 251.
  • Ka Bo Tsang. Squirrels in Garden: A Painting by Hua Yen. vol. 14.2, Summer 1981. p. 10.
  • Howard Rogers, Sherman Lee. Masterworks of Ming and Qing Painting from the Forbidden City. Exh. cat. Lansdale, PA. pp. 94, 187-9, pl. 60.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.