Birds on a flowering branch

Shanghai experienced rapid changes and growth during the 19th century as a port open to the West. Many artists came to Shanghai to seek opportunity and relative safety from political and cultural upheaval. Their work contained less traditional literati symbolism and emphasized the visual content of the painting itself. These paintings were well received by the emerging middle class around Shanghai. Zhu Cheng was one of these artists who were loosely termed the Shanghai School. The lively brushwork and vibrant colours as demonstrated in this painting are major characteristics of the distinctive Shanghai style. Zhu also followed Hua Yan's (1682-1756) techniques and methods of depicting the movements of birds. The inscription reads 'For the esteemed Mr. Kechen to appreciate and critcize.'


  • Catalogue text

    Zhu Cheng was from Jiaxing in Zhejiang province, and was active in Shanghai by 1862. Demand for his small-scale paintings, mostly fans, was high and his later works tend to be larger, and bolder in style. He is best known for bird and flower painting.

    In: Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000)

Further reading

Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000), no. 168 on p. 192, illus. p. 193 fig. 168

Reference URL

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