Deux oiseaux verts sur un magnolia
Papier, Encre, Couleurs - Pigments
非闇; 非厂居士; 于照之印
Don manuel : Guo, Youshou 郭有守, Docteur
Translation: During the supplementary month of the Dinghai year , I was staying at the Wanyangyun Xuan. Before the Leshou Tang there was a xinyi magnolia in full bloom. I remembered that my friend, Lin, had in his garden on the banks of the Hu a xinyi magnolia with two trunks from a single stem that were joined like one tree, without there having been a graft. It was an extraordinary thing. And so I made this painting, to record this unusual phenomenon. The wild apple tree dazzles the eye [the fragrance] of the lilac fills the courtyard. [Painted] and inscribed by Fei’an.
Painter’s seals: 1. 非厂居士 (朱文) 2. 于照之印 Yu Zhao 于照, known by the name of Yu Fei’an, was born in Beijing. In his youth, he studied painting with Wang Runxuan 王润暄, a popular artist. He became a journalist and teacher of painting and calligraphy in various academic institutions in Beijing between the wars. From 1935, he worked at the Exhibitions Bureau in the Forbidden City. From this time, he began research on ancient painting and copied master works in the collections of the new museum that had been open to the public since 1931. This access to old paintings coincided with a turning point in his work: from 1935, he devoted himself exclusively to bird-and-flower painting in the meticulous gongbi style. Following his first solo exhibition in 1936, he rapidly emerged as one of the masters of the genre. After 1949, he occupied important positions in the Chinese Painting Research Society and the Beijing Fine Art Academy.
Yu Fei’an himself said that his work on birds and flowers could be divided into three main periods. The first one was dominated by ancient models, particularly the Song and Yuan masters as well as Chen Hongshou. In the second one, he focused exclusively on the paintings of the Song emperor Huizong, as well as his calligraphy in the “slender gold” script style, shoujin 瘦金 . In the third one, his direct study of nature enabled him to use an empirical approach in his historical studies. His writings, particularly his important treatise devoted to colours in Chinese painting, reflect his profound knowledge of popular painting traditions.
Two Green Birds on a Magnolia dates from the artist’s mature years. Besides the references to ancient painting, visible in the arrangement of the composition, the work is presented by Yu Fei’an as the result of his direct observation of a tree in blossom. The inscription reveals the painter’s interest in botany. The delicately contrasting hues illustrate the painter’s work on colour.