Qing dynasty AD1644-1911

Shen Zhenlin

Cats and Butterflies of Longevity

Qing dynasty AD1644-1911

Shen Zhenlin

Cats and Butterflies of Longevity

Shen Zhenlin (style name Fengchi), a native of Wuxian (modern Suzhou, Jiangsu) served the Qing court painting academy in the Xianfeng and Tongzhi reigns (1851-1874). He specialized in figures and portraits but was also good at sketching birds and flowers from life as well as landscapes. Famous for his painting, Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) awarded him a plaque that she personally inscribed: "To a miraculous hand that transmits the spirit." In ancient times, people used the homonym of "cat" and "butterfly" for "octogenarian"and "septuagenarian" to express birthday wishes for a venerated elder. This work is composed of two albums rendered with gold and other mineral-based pigments on black paper to depict cats and butterflies playing and roaming among flowers of the seasons.

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