In the early 1930s, Gao Jianfu published a painting sharing the same composition as the present piece several times, which might be an early version of the present piece, with the latter having the poem. Other differences include the addition of the tiger’s tail and alterations to its eyes that give the beast a more frightened expression. Jen Ju-wen (1896-1978), the painting’s former owner disclosed some information in his poetic inscription:

The tiger injured on its feet
raises its tail and widens its eyes.
Groaning in pain,
the beast reclines, but does not prostrate.
This is explained to me by the painter
who understands well the art of anatomy.
Forceful and lively are the brushwork
with which the extraordinary piece is executed with.

A roar and grasses wilt at the gust sent a-howling.
Where the murk disperses shows the tiger crouching.
This should leave vicious foxes hushed and trembling.
Not a soul suspect before them is just a painting.
Jianfu sojourning in Nanjing in the spring of 1935.

Vimala-kirti is not alone to be seen as taken ill.
With nothing to hunt, the hunter can only sit still.
Roaring and howling will be in vain as things are.
Yet posterity will shout their indignation from afar.
Scribbled by Yi Ru(1874-1941) for the perusal of Jianfu and at the behest of Ju-wen. Autumn, or the ninth month, of the bingzi year [1936].


  • Title: The Sickly Tiger
  • Creator: Gao Jianfu (1897–1951)
  • Date Created: Dated 1935
  • Provenance: Gift of Mr. Ho lu-kwong, Mr. Huo Pao-tsai, Mr. Lai Tak and others
  • Type: Painting; Hanging scroll
  • Rights: Collection of Art Museum, CUHK
  • Medium: Colour on paper
  • Accession number: 1973.0828

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