Collection online

Two Owls; 貓頭鷹; Maotouying

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1996,0614,0.12

  • Title (object)

    • Two Owls; 貓頭鷹; Maotouying
  • Description

    Painting of two owls over a tree-branch, accompanied with calligraphy, in and colours on paper.
    Dated.

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1977
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 48 centimetres (image)
    • Width: 45.5 centimetres (image)
    • Height: 86 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
    • Width: 58.4 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
    • Depth: 1.2 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        lower left
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        黃永玉丁巳春
      • Inscription Translation

        Huang Yongyu, [year of] dingsi, spring
      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        right
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        鷗梟之為物,有史以來皆纏夾於毀譽之間。余對此鳥年來頗有興趣,嘗信手寫之,實無意以狀物言事。謬牝王某云此鳥不祥,乃另立名目,羅以深刻含義,粮子野心,矛頭所指,不言自明。聞王某已自動作,古不祥云云頓成自我寫照,造化弄人,奇詭若是噫唏。憲義兄一笑。黃永玉補記。
      • Inscription Translation

        Owls have always had reputations of being both auspicious and inauspicious. I had been interested in these birds for years, painted them casually and had no intention of making oblique comments through the depictions [of owls]. That ridiculous woman Wang said these birds were inauspicious and made up complicated meanings. [Her] dreadful intentions and accusations were so clear that they needed not to be spelled out. [I] hear Wang has committed suicide. The ancient saying [of owls being] inauspicious has become a true portrayal [of her situation]. Fate makes fun of man in a bizarre way. For the amusement of [Yang] Xianyi. Inscription added by Huang Yongyu
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Position

        lower left
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        五十復止
      • Inscription Transliteration

        wushi fuzhi
  • Curator's comments

    Barrass 2002:
    In 1974 the artist Huang Yongyu had exhibited a painting of two owls, one of which had one eye closed. He was vilified by Jiang Qing for this painting as an affront to Chinese Communism. He painted 'Auspicious and Inauspicious Owls' to celebrate the downfall of the Gang of Four.During the Cultural Revolution in March 1974, works of traditional ink painters, branded “Black Paintings”, were shown in China’s National Art Gallery in Beijing. A painting depicting an owl with a winking eye by Huang Yongyu was criticised as revealing “an animosity toward the Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the socialist system. ” At the end of the Revolution and after the arrest of the Gang of Four, including Mao’s wife Jiang Qing (1914-91), Huang Yongyu painted Two Owls. In the inscription he ridicules his former critics. The painting is dedicated to Huang’s close friend Yang Xianyi (b.1915-2009) and was given to the museum through Gordon Barras.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • von Spee 2012 Cat.22 bibliographic details
    • Barrass 2002 p.270, fig.157 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited

    2010 12 Feb-15 May, Liverpool, Victoria Art Gallery and Museum, ‘Strokes of the Brush’

    May-Sept 2012, BM Galleries 91, 'Modern Chinese Ink Painting'

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1996

  • Acquisition notes

    Donated to the British Museum by Chinese calligraphers and painters through Gordon Barrass.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1996,0614,0.12

  • Additional IDs

    • Ch.Ptg.Add.646 (Chinese Painting Additional Number)

There is no image of this object, or there may be copyright restrictions

Image service:

Request new photography

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: RFC3949

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...