Pines and Four Magpies
Huang Pen-fu, Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 158 x 81.1 cm
Huang Pen-fu, whose birth and death dates are unknown, resided in She-hsien, Anhwei Province. He excelled at painting the subjects of birds-and-flowers and grasses-and-insects.
Four magpies jump among the trunks of two verdant, strong, and impressive pine trees shown here. The magpie is a traditional Chinese symbol for happiness and the pine represents old age, making this work also auspicious in nature and appropriate as an offering of blessings. The pine trees were done with layers of strokes and dots to give the impression of dense and thick shade along with volume. The magpies and moss dots include touches of mineral green, adding a sense of bright color to the painting while further setting off the deep and dark serenity and atmosphere created by the close-up composition and pine trees.