Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Finches and Bamboo

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide, 1983 page 109.

Click to enlarge.

43 EMPEROR HUI-TSUNG, Sung dynasty, 1082-1135
Finches and Bamboo
Handscroll; ink and colors on silk; 1 fx 18 in. (27.9 x 45.7 cm)

"What good fortune for these insignificant birds to have been painted by this sage," mused the famous connoisseur Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322) in a colophon attached to this gemlike painting. The sage he refers to is Hui-tsung, the eighth emperor of the Sung dynasty and the most artistically accomplished of his imperial line. During his reign (1101-25) he spent vast sums in the pursuit of fine calligraphy, of great paintings, and of spectacular rocks for his garden-parks.

Finches and Bamboo illustrates the supra-realistic style of bird and flower painting practiced at Hui-tsung's Painting Academy. The painting is signed at the right with the emperor's cipher over a seal that reads "imperial writing." Over one hundred other seals of subsequent owners and connoisseurs dot the scroll. The scroll is also valued for the superb calligraphy in the form of appreciative comments that follow the painting. John M. Crawford Jr. Collection, Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1981, 1981.278

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