The Sketching of Rare Birds (handscroll)

Emperor Huizong of Song

Long Museum West Bund

Long Museum West Bund
Shanghai, China

Zhao Ji, also known as Emperor Huizong, reigned over China from 1100 to 1125. During this period, he collected a large number of ancient artifacts, calligraphic works and paintings, recruited painters, expanded the School of Painting in the Hanlin Academy (hanlinyuan), and asked his ministers to compile The Calligraphy Collection of the Xuanhe Period (xuanheshupu) and The Painting Collection of the Xuanhe Period (xuanhehuapu). Zhao Ji was highly accomplished in calligraphy and painting. His regular script, “Slender Gold Script” (shoujinshu), as named by the Emperor himself, is based on Xue Yao’s calligraphic style. He also wrote in wild cursive script. Zhao emphasized the importance of sketching and was famous for the close resemblance of his meticulous paintings to the original real objects. He was equally good at painting flowers and birds, and, allegedly, used raw lacquer to paint the eyes of birds, which made them miraculously lifelike.


  • Title: The Sketching of Rare Birds (handscroll)
  • Creator: Zhao Ji
  • Type: Chinese ink on paper
  • Creator's Dates: 1082-1135

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