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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Chinese
Title: Cicadas and Willow
Date: 18th century
Medium: Hanging scroll: Ink on paper
Dimensions: 42 3/8 x 18 5/8 inches (107.6 x 47.3 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Annie Wong, Class of 1977, and Calvin Cheng, Class of 1974 (MBA 1976)
Object Number: 2001.009
Label Text: Inscribed with a poem:

Chasing the east wind to dancing parties;
Joyfully swinging on the grassy plain, even on sad days.
Why is it that when cool autumn days arrive,
Their leaves fall, taking with them the setting sun and cicadas?

A prominent member of the group of artists known as the Yangzhou Eccentrics, Li Shan came from a family of scholars and officials. He passed the second-degree examination at the age of twenty-five, but was later dismissed from service in the Imperial Study. He then worked in Yangzhou as a professional artist. After a second try at officialdom, he was dismissed from his position as magistrate of Linzhi, in Shandong Province, and returned to Yangzhou. For the rest of his life, he gained a reputation for painting and for his unconventional lifestyle.

Li Shan excelled at painting literati subject matter such as ink bamboo, orchids, and other botanical motifs, birds and insects, in a free, expressive manner. The cicada is a symbol of immortality. Willow represents spring and is believed to possess power to overcome demons.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.