This painting is an outstanding representative of northern China claborate-style painting of followers and birds; it was also the masterpiece of Yu Fei’an in his later years. The painterfluently outlined blooming white magnolias on the cyan colored paper which symbolizes the sky. In the swaying flowers, there are two orioles with bright feathers flying. The color is gorgeous,clear and elegant but not vulgar. At the right lower corner of the painting, thereinscribed thin and gold Chinese characters: "two bright-colored orioles are flying in beautiful followers ", which comes from the Book of Songs. Oriole and magnolia are two typical symbols in spring season in northern China. In Yu’s early years, he had apprenticeship from a folk artist, but the teacher did not teach him how to paint, but taught him to play crickets, birds, plant flowers and make pigment, thus he became quite familiar with their anatomical structure, characteristics and habits. At the age of 46, he began to specialize in fine brushwork painting of flowers and birds, and studied paintings of Song Dynasty, especially Song Huizong Zhao Ji's flower and bird paintings. "Dots and dashes are just like orchid leaves". He adopted such thin and gold style brushwork, which is strong and lively.Magnolia and orioles are vividly and carefully described, not in formal stereotype, forming an idyllic scene of birds and flowers, which lively appear on paper. This isbecause flower and bird paintings in Chinese fine brushwork are not “still life paintings", instead, they capture the dynamic states of flowers and birds with fine brushwork.


  • Title: Magnolias and Orioles
  • Creator: Yu Fei’an
  • Date: 1956
  • Provenance: National Art Museum of China
  • Physical format: painting, 103.7h x 77.3w cm
  • Medium: ink and colors on paper
  • Artist's birth and death date: 1889-1959

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