Cranes and Pines in the Kunlun Mountains


Cranes and Pines in the Kunlun Mountains

Paintings / Ming Dynasty / China

By Lu Qian

Place of production:China

Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century

Color on silk



This piece is titled Cranes and Pines in the Kunlun Mountains. These mountains are legendary peaks where Taoist immortals were said to live. They were thought to be located west of the source of China’s magnificent Yellow River. Both cranes and pines represent long life, and are themes closely connected with Taoist immortals. The signature of the artist is in the upper right, and the inscription states that this work was given to a person named Li Huaisu. This work shows pines growing in the Kunlun Mountains and cranes gathered there, making it an auspicious painting that is perfect as a present to celebrate long life.
The painter, Lu Qian, was active during the 16th and 17th centuries. Lu Qian’s great grandfather was the famous court painter Lu Ji, whocreated many large-scale bird and flower paintings with well-ordered compositions. The splendid colors and beautiful brushwork of his works received passionate support not only within China, but also from the Korean peninsula and Japan, and his style spread throughout East Asia.
Lu Qian seemsto have carefully studied the flower and bird paintings of Lu Ji, and changed hisstyle into something more elegant and refined. The elegantly-curvinglong, slim necks of the cranes and the softly-blended green of the pine needles show Lu Qian’s unique sense of beauty. Shadows made with thin layers of ink, water with skillfully-painted waves, and birds’ feathers rendered with translucent white pigment all reflect Lu Qian’s skill.

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