- Museum number
- Object: Two Owls; 貓頭鷹; Maotouying
Painting of two owls over a tree-branch, accompanied with calligraphy, in and colours on paper.
- Production date
Height: 86 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
Height: 48 centimetres (image)
Width: 58.40 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
Width: 45.50 centimetres (image)
Depth: 1.20 centimetres (Mounted dimension)
- Curator's comments
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.
- On display (G35)
- Exhibition history
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'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Donated to the British Museum by Chinese calligraphers and painters through Gordon Barrass.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Ch.Ptg.Add.646 (Chinese Painting Additional Number)