Inscription: Morning song. Not quite the end of spring, Bingzi year (1936). Beihong.
Seal: “Bei” (Heart-shaped seal with relief characters)
In 1935, China and Japan signed the He-Umezu Agreement, and the Republican government ceded the sovereignty of northern China. Their passive stance toward Japan accelerated the Japanese invasion of China. With a national crisis immanent, Xu Beihong painted this work and added the inscription: “Not quite the end of spring, Bingzi year,” which was a reference to current unrest in China.
Xu Beihong liked Ren Bonian’s paintings of sparrows. He collected one of Ren’s paintings of banana leaves and sparrows, which was painted almost purely in ink and may be one of Ren’s best works.