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November 15, 2009

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Emperor shows off skill in painting

EMPEROR Huizong was the eighth and one of the most famous emperors of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). His personal life was spent amongst luxury and art.

His birth name was Zhao Ji, and Huizong was famed for his painting and calligraphy skills. One of his masterpieces is displayed at Shanghai Museum.

It's called "Liu Ya Lu Yan Tu," which means "crows in the willows and wild geese in reeds."

The 34-centimeter-long and 223-centimeter-wide painting is divided into two parts: crows in willows on the right half and wild geese in reeds on the other half.

The crows are perched on willow branches and are playing with each other while the wild geese are stretching themselves to reach the water.

The lively and vivid painting reflects the freshness and vitality of nature.

The clean and well-stretched painting style conveys the bleakness and tranquility of autumn.

The different strokes, lines, ink and color reveal the talent of the emperor.

The harmonious and graceful composition of the picture perfectly represents Huizong's keen eye for detail and artistic skill.

Seals stamped on the painting indicate the painting had been preserved in the royal palace during the Song Dynasty and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty inscribed a poem on the painting, which further enhanced the value of the piece.

Compared with Huizong's other works, which are magnificent and luxurious, the painting style, which is clean and simple, is more like a scholar's rather than an emperor. This makes it rare among Huizong's paintings.

The painting was first discovered in the middle of the last century in a flea market, and Xie Zhiliu, a famous private collector, purchased it at a high price for Shanghai Museum.


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