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Zhou Zhimian was a bird-and-flower painter active in mid and late Ming dynasty. Courtesy name as Fuqing with a style name Shaogu, he was a native of Changzhou (today's Suzhou, Jiangsu province). He raised a lot of birds at home to observe their forms and understand their behaviors. His flower painting absorbed the style of Chen Chun and Lu Zhi, combining the fine-brush and freehand techniques and forming a unique style characterized by brilliant colors. Zhou and other Suzhou painters initiated a new school of flower painting, known as the "Outlining Flowers and Dotting Leaves". Zhou's bird-and-flower works had a substantial influence on later painters including Wang Weilie, Liu Qi and Sun Miao.
This work bears the artist's signature, "Zhou Zhimian", and two intaglio seals, "Seal of Zhou Zhimian" and "Courtesy Name Fuqing".
Swallows and Mandarin Ducks in Pairs was painted in a mixed style of fine-brush and freehand. The manner of the swallows and ducks was portrayed in bright colors with highly detailed and refined strokes, and their environment was pictured as a lively background with elegant flowers.