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Asian art

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late 19th century-mid 20th century


QI Baishi


1863 - 1957


‘Qi Baishi is the quintessential master of modern Chinese painting. His work embodies the qualities of freshness, colour and audacious brushwork that were the hallmarks of Chinese painting in the traditional manner around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Born in Hunan province, Qi was plagued by illness in his youth and learnt carpentry in an attempt to improve his condition. Although always interested in painting, it was not until his late 30s that Qi began to formally study painting and poetry, initially with the great scholar Wang Xiangyi. As his career progressed Qi became the most established Chinese artist of the 20th century. Later in life, and following the foundation of the People’s Republic, he was recognised in a number of positions and honours, including his 1953 appointment as ‘People’s Artist’. He was always the master of the ‘xieyi’ (spontaneous brushwork) manner and in this painting demonstrates his delight in his subject and the experience of playing with brush, ink and colour.’

The inscription reads: ‘On working in the garden, I pulled out weeds and cut off wilted flowers. The newly planted vine was not thick enough to cover the fence, so I filled the empty space with autumn melons. In so doing I lamented the hardships of life, and the struggle for food. Baishi.’ The scroll also bears the seal of the distinguished artist and collector C C Wang to whom this painting once belonged.’

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’, pg.169
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Place where the work was made



late 19th century-mid 20th century

Media category


Materials used

hanging scroll; ink and colour on paper


132.0 x 33.7 cm image; 205.0 x 46.0 x 52.0 cm scroll

Signature & date

Signed c.r. to l.r., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink, "…Baishi laoren". Not dated.
Signed l.r., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Baishi [artist's seal]".


Anonymous gift 2000


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

QI Baishi

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Shanghai School and Modern Painting', Sydney, 2003, 169 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Chinese Painting, 'Qi Baishi', Sydney, 1985, 14 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 9, 14 (illus.).