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Asian art

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Birds and bamboo

20th century


Pan Tianshou


1897 - 1971


‘Pan Tianshou was born in Ninghai in Zhejiang Province and Loved to paint, even as a child. Self-taught in the arts of calligraphy, poetry, seal-carving and painting in his youth, he then attended the Zhejiang First College and subsequently the Shanghai Art College. In Shanghai he met several distinguished artists, of whom Wu Changshuo (cats. 20 and 21) had the most profound impact. Wu, then already eighty, was the leader of Shanghai art circles, but acknowledged Pan’s gifts in his couplet: “The grotesque and fantastic are seen under your brush; street-rumours and village gossip becomes poetry in your work”. In 1925 he completed his first book ‘A History of Chinese Painting’. From 1928 he taught at various Art Colleges: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, Hunan, until 1940 when he was appointed Dean of the National Arts College. After the People’s Republic of China was established he was elected Director of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese Artists Association and various other positions. He was one of China’s outstanding painters and art educators until unfortunately he was a victim of the Cultural Revolution and died in 1971.

Pan was one of China’s most highly regarded bird and flower painters in the colourful and expressive style of the Shanghai school. He excelled at freehand paintings of birds and had thoroughly studied the styles of earlier masters like Zhu Da and Shi Tao as well as being influenced by the styles of Qi Baishi and Wu Changshuo. With his strong brushwork he created images of contained energy and presence. He was distinguished for his bizarre, cranky and rather grand images of birds, and he enjoyed using rich, thick ink.’

‘Contemporary Chinese Painting’, pg.15.
© 1985 Art Gallery of New South Wales


Place where the work was made



20th century

Media category


Materials used

hanging scroll; ink and colour on paper


46.5 x 58.0 cm image; 196.0 x 75.0 x 66.0 cm scroll

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "Shouzhe…". Not dated.
Signed u.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Pan Tianshou Yin [artist's seal]".
Signed l.r., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Ah Shou [artist's seal]".


J.B. Pye Bequest Fund 1985


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Pan Tianshou

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Chinese Painting', pg. 42-52, Sydney, 1990, 48 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Chinese Painting, 'Pan Tianshou', Sydney, 1985, 14(illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Bulletin, Sydney, Sep 1986, 2 (illus.).