The Mandarin Duck: A Work of Art in Central Park

The Mandarin Duck: A Work of Art in Central Park

It appears Manhattan’s “hot duck” loves New York. The mandarin duck, a rare breed to spot in the city, joined Central Park’s ménage of fowls last month and has since (with a few disappearances) made itself right at home.

Upon its mysterious arrival, the drake swiftly caught the attention of passersby with its striking feathers — a Patagonia-esque palette of orange, purple, green and brown that at times looks plastic, much like the band wrapped around its leg. And though the duck is a fresh burst of color in Upper Manhattan, its likeness can be found throughout art history, often showing up as a symbol of marriage and strong relationships.

We’ve gathered some of our favorite mandarin duck art below.

“Mandarin Ducks Crossing Icy Pond Amid Falling Leaves,” Utagawa Hiroshige. Japan. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
“Mandarin Ducks and Cotton Rose Hibiscus,” Lü Ji. Ming dynasty (1368–1644). China. Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 2005.
Vessel in Form of a Mandarin Duck or Wild Goose. Date: Tang dynasty (618–907 A.D.), first half of 8th century. China. Bequest of Janis H. Palmer.
“Mandarin Ducks,” Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Japan. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
“Mandarin Ducks,” from the series “Kashinsai,” Nishimura Shigenaga. Japan. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
“Pair of Mandarin Ducks Swimming.” Amber. Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Qianlong period (1736–95). China. Gift of George Coe Graves, 1930.
“Pair of Mandarin Ducks and Iris Flowers,” Kubo Shunman. Edo period (1615–1868). H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929.
Dish with mandarin ducks and lotuses. Ming dynasty (1368–1644). China. The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 2011.
Rank badge with mandarin duck. Qing dynasty (1644–1911). China.

 

Top Image: "Mandarin Ducks and Cotton Rose Hibiscus," Lü Ji. Ming dynasty (1368–1644). China. Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 2005.