Set of six painted duck egg shells, depicting birds and flowers

Zhou Peichun, Artist

This is one of the paintings in our collection. It was made in circa 1900. The place where it was made is unknown.
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Object Detail

About the Work
These exquisite painted duck egg shells were discovered inside a small brown cardboard box inside a glass cabinet deep inside the basement collection store. They were given to the Gallery in 1944 by New Zealander Leonard Moore who had collected them during his travels in Peking (modern day Beijing). While they had been documented in the Gallery records there was very little information about them.

In the course of her research Transition Assistant Kimberley Stephenson contacted several international experts in Chinese art and successfully confirmed the identity of the artist Zhou Peichun from the Chinese characters painted on the tiny slips of paper affixed to each of the shells. Little is known about him other than that he had a studio in Beijing around 1880 – 1910.

According to Yiyan Wang, Professor of Chinese at Victoria University of Wellington, the eggs were probably made as commercial art objects for foreign tourists as the Chinese do not have an egg painting tradition, other than to paint eggs red for birthday celebrations.

Flowers and birds in Chinese painting are often used as symbols, in a similar way to the Elizabethan gentleman’s hand-held posy. The magpie on one of the shells represents happiness and good fortune and the blossoming plum tree impending good news. The cockerel and sparrows are signs of good luck, and the pheasant is a traditional symbol of beauty and good fortune.

- Jennifer Taylor Moore, Curator of Collections, 'Revealed– Collection Discoveries from our Recent Move' exhibition booklet, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, 2016
60 x 40 mm each
enamel paint on duck egg shell
Duck eggs painted with birds and flowers.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Gift of Leonard Moore, 1944.
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
Jan 1944



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