During Southern and Northern Song dynasties, Chinese ancient paintings achieved unprecedented development and had made significant accomplishments. In early Northern Song Dynasty, the loyal court painter Huang Jucai inherited his father Huang Quan’s painting style of flowers and birds, making exquisite and gorgeous style become the criterion to judge loyal court flower and bird paintings, until the emergence of painters like Cui Bai who broke the dominant position of such criterion. Both Cui Bai and Huang Quan focused on accuracy of sketching and modeling, but Cui Bai added a bit more life joy to the painting. It was such concern about birds’ expression that brought flower and bird paintings into a new stage of development. The artist set the scene in a late autumn field, where a disturbed hare looked back at a pair of whining magpies. Through the hare's eyes, we could see its amazed look when it stops and watches back. It is surprised but not fearful, because it knows that magpies are of no threat to it. Its movements and position echo with magpies’, which must result from the painter’s daily sketching practices, accurate and vivid.


  • Title: Magpies and Hare
  • Creator: Cui Bai
  • Date: Song Dynasty
  • Provenance: National Palace Museum
  • Physical format: painting, 193.7h x 103.4w cm
  • Medium: colors on silk
  • Dynastic period: Song Dynasty
  • Artist's birth and death date: 1004-1088

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