Search

A concrete cantilevered building against blue sky and green landscaping

A large green wall with oil paintings in gold frames above a tiled floor

A museum interior space with paintings and concrete walls and stairs

A concrete-walled lobby with windows, a tiled floor, and a circular desk

The top of a concrete spiral staircase with a wooden railing

A tall tree is the focal point of a garden in between two concrete buildings

About arrow_back

Admission for everyone is always free! Check here for current hours and more.

A concrete cantilevered building against blue sky and green landscaping

Collections arrow_back

The Johnson Museum holds more than 40,000 works in its collection from around the world.

A large green wall with oil paintings in gold frames above a tiled floor

Exhibitions arrow_back

Check out what’s on view this season at the Museum and look back through our history.

A museum interior space with paintings and concrete walls and stairs

Events arrow_back

Free events for everyone, plus special programs for students, families, and more!

A concrete-walled lobby with windows, a tiled floor, and a circular desk

Learn arrow_back

The Johnson Museum actively contributes to the intellectual life of our campus and community.

The top of a concrete spiral staircase with a wooden railing

Support arrow_back

Help the Johnson Museum continue its legacy by making a gift today.

A tall tree is the focal point of a garden in between two concrete buildings

Qian Songyan

(Chinese, 1898–1985)

Magpies, willow, and full moon

View All Works

Object Details

Artist

Qian Songyan

Date

1978

Medium

Hanging scroll: ink and colors; finger painting on paper

Dimensions

Image: 41 5/8 x 13 inches (105.7 x 33 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Membership Purchase Fund

Object
Number

80.067.003

Chinese paintings that focus on details of nature often carry symbolic meaning. Magpies up high in a(…)

Chinese paintings that focus on details of nature often carry symbolic meaning. Magpies up high in a tree represent happiness, and a pair of them together in a willow tree, associated with springtime, can thus be read as embodying the wish for a couple to have joy in their relationship. The full moon (yueliang) is associated with the unity of the family, so Qian’s picture, which was painted not with a brush but entirely with his fingers, can be interpreted as a celebration of marriage and family.Qian grew up in Yixing and later taught art in Wuxi until the Japanese bombing of that city. After World War II, he became politically active and joined the Communist Party. He enjoyed success as a painter until the Cultural Revolution, when he was criticized and sent to do hard labor in the countryside. Already in his seventies, this took a toll on his health and exacerbated the arthritis in his hands. Following the end of that tumultuous time, Qian’s reputation was restored—he received important commissions and was once again celebrated for his art. This picture was made in 1978, the year he suffered and recovered from a severe illness, following which he began to paint with his fingers. The subject is rather poignant considering the hardships of Qian’s life. While the birds appear a bit bedraggled, they have survived together to enjoy another spring, attesting to the devotion of family as a source of strength in the face of adversity. (“Moon,” curated by Ellen Avril and presented at the Johnson Museum August 25, 2018-January 13, 2019)

Discover More

Portrait of Alexander the Great

India, Golconda, perhaps made for the European market

Color System

Joanne Greenbaum

Floral still life

Benjamin Champney

Still life with goldfish bowl

Morston Constantine Ream

Create an account

Please take a moment to fill your information to create your account.

Reset Password

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive mail with link to set new password.

Save Artwork

Save the artwork in any of your exhibitions or create a new one.

You have not made any exhibitions.

Create New Exhibition

Create New Exhibition