|Finches and Bamboo, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)
Emperor Huizong (1082–1135, r. 1101–1125) Chinese
Handscroll; ink and color on silk; 11 x 18 in. (27.9 x 45.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
John M. Crawford, Jr. Collection, Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1981
About the Art
“Finches and Bamboo illustrates the suprarealistic style of flower-and-bird painting preferred by Huizong’s Painting Academy. In such works, the artist displayed his intimate knowledge of the appearance and growth of plants and his ability to render accurately the movements of birds as they hop about or stand poised ready for flight. Whether making a study from nature or illustrating a line of poetry, however, capturing the spirit of the subject was valued above mere literal representation. Here, the minutely observed finches are imbued with the alertness and sprightly vitality of their living counterparts. Drops of lacquer added to the birds’ eyes impart a final lifelike touch.”
About the Artist
Emperor Huizong (November 2, 1082 – June 4, 1135) was the eighth and one of the most famous emperors of the Song Dynasty of China, with a personal life spent amidst luxury, sophistication and art but ending in tragedy. Born Zhao Ji, he was the 11th son of Emperor Shenzong. In February 1100 his older half-brother Emperor Zhezong (哲宗) died without a surviving son, and Huizong succeeded him the next day as emperor. He reigned from 1100 to 1126. Huizong was famed for his promotion of Taoism. He was also a skilled poet, painter, calligrapher, and musician. He sponsored numerous artists at his court, and the catalogue of his imperial painting collection lists over 6,000 known paintings.
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