Qi Baishi, ‘Plum Blossoms and Bird’, ca. 1930, Noguchi Museum

Image rights: University of Michigan Museum of Art, Courtesy The Noguchi Museum

University of Michigan Museum of Art, gift of Sotokichi Katsuizumi, 1949

About Qi Baishi

Self-taught painter Qi Baishi is one the most influential artists to emerge from 19th-century China. Born into a peasant family, Qi would adopt an itinerant lifestyle in his middle age, traveling throughout China before settling in Beijing in 1917. Drawn from his experiences, Qi's favored subjects included animals, plants, everyday objects, and scenery, which he rendered in whimsical, free-flowing watercolors. “Paintings must be something between likeness and unlikeness,” he said. Qi's major influences included the master painters of the Qing and Ming dynasties; he in turn would influence a broad range of Modern artists, from Pablo Picasso to Isamu Noguchi. In 2011, one of his paintings sold for the equivalent of $65.5 million, making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction.

Chinese, 1864-1957