Aquatic Plants and Fish (畫魚藻)
Lang Shining (郎世寧, 1688-1766), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 68.8 x 122.1 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei
The tradition of depicting fish swimming among plants in water goes back as far as the Song dynasty (960-1279). However, this painting by Giuseppe Castiglione differs from the traditional rendering of aquatic plants and fish. He enlarged the size of the fish and positioned the plants on the surface of the water as below the larger fish, creating an unusual visual effect that makes the two large fish appear to be floating in the air. Judging from some markings in the plant patterns near the edge of the painting, this work may have originally been glued to the surface of a palace wall and then later removed and remounted as a hanging scroll.