Rare Birds Painted from Life
Artist：Zhao Ji, Northern Song Dynasty
Handscroll, Ink on paper
Zhao Ji (1082-1135), also known as Emperor Song 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. 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.