Hua Yan was one of the most versatile of the group of artists known as the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou for their creative independence. In this painting of a vermillion bird perched on bamboo, the artist included an inscription of the poem “Drinking Wine” by famed Jin dynasty poet Tao Qian (365–427), which celebrates the joys of a reclusive existence:
The fall chrysanthemums have lovely colors. I pluck the petals that are wet with dew, And float them in this Care Dispelling Thing To strengthen my resolve to leave the world. I drink my solitary cup alone And when it’s empty, pour myself another. The sun goes down, and all of nature rests. Homing birds fly chirping toward the grove. I sit complacent on the east veranda, Having somehow found my life again.
Translated by James Robert Hightower
"Acquisitions of the Art Museum 1984," Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 44, no. 1 (1985): p. 24-52.
Wen C. Fong, Images of the mind: selections from the Edward L. Elliott family and John B. Elliott collections of Chinese calligraphy and painting at the Art Museum, Princeton University, (Princeton, NJ: The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1984).