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Qi Baishi

(Chinese, 1864–1957)

Crabs

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Object Details

Artist

Qi Baishi

Date

1952

Medium

Hanging scroll: ink on paper

Dimensions

Image: 31 1/4 x 13 1/2 inches (79.4 x 34.3 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. Hu Shih, Class of 1914

Object
Number

56.251

Qi Baishi was born to a peasant family, and largely through his own efforts he became adept at the a(…)

Qi Baishi was born to a peasant family, and largely through his own efforts he became adept at the arts of poetry, calligraphy, and painting. His prodigious output reflects a diversity of interests and experiences, generally focusing on the smaller things of the world rather than larger landscapes. Fish, shrimp, crabs, and frogs were his favorite subjects. The political issues of the early twentieth century barely affected his work, as Qi maintained his own values and ideas despite harsh times.

Qi painted this group of four crabs at the age of eighty-eight, in a manner that represents his mature style, when naturalism and abstraction found a new balance. This painting was presented to Hu Shih as a gift by Zhang Daofan, who held senior government and party posts in the Republic of China.

(“Debating Art: Chinese Intellectuals at the Crossroads,” curated by Yuhua Ding, with assistance by Elizabeth Emrich, and presented at the Johnson Museum February 2-July 8, 2018)

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