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  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy with bamboo and cicadas.
    Fan painting - Calligraphy with bamboo and cicadas. by Zhang Pan (1812-after 1887)

    Bamboo and cicadas with inscription. Zhang Pan was from Dingxing in Hebei province, and held an official post in Wuding in Shandong province. He was known as a calligrapher, especially in the seal and clerical script, as well as a painter of the bird and flower category, illustrated by the present example. He worked in the manner of Yao Yuanzhi,whose work is in this collection, and the earlier Qing artist Bian Shoumin, who was famous for his paintings of geese. Zhang may well have been a student of Yao Yuanzhi, since their lives overlapped by several decades. This painting of two cicadas on a willow tree, one on the trunk and one on the slender branch is of an unusual subject, but painted with restraint and great skill. A subject such as this is ideal for the fan format, since the twisting trunk and wind-blown branches can be arranged to fit the available space. There is a resonance between the cicada, an insect associated with rejuvination and rebirth through its habit of emerging from the ground after seven years of burial, and the aged twisting trunk juxtaposed with the fresh new leaves.