Geese and Reeds
Shen Huang (Chinese, 1687 – 1773)
MediumInk, pigment on paper, scroll
DimensionsImage : 48 x 23 1/2 in. (1.2 m x 59.69 cm)
Work : 7 ft. 6 in. x 34 1/2 in. x 1 1/2 in. (2.3 m x 87.63 cm x 3.81 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
LabelBorn to poor parents from Fujian province, Huang Shen became a painter in order to support his family. In addition to painting, Huang spent time studying classical literature so that his images would have greater cultural depth. This image of geese and reeds is a fine example of Huang’s nature painting. Geese were a regular feature of the landscape around the city of Yangzhou, where Huang lived. They also appear regularly in Chinese poetry and visual art from the 7th century onward, often as symbols for government officials and merchants who must travel far from home. While this painting looks like a simple sketch of a rural marsh scene, it is imbued with multiple layers of historical and cultural meaning.