Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk
Painting: 130 x 47.2 cm (51 3/16 x 18 9/16 in.); Overall: 281 x 95 cm (110 5/8 x 37 3/8 in.)
Gift of various donors by exchange 2001.120
Hua Yan's autobiographical inscription, full of remorse and insecurity, is squeezed into the contour of a hill in the upper left.
This portrait was jointly executed by Wei Shijie and Hua Yan himself who painted the landscape in the background. Hua Yan is shown here at the age of about 23. The sword at his back is a reference to his early desire for a military career, while the scholar’s robe suggests an opposing aspiration. Together these are signs of a complex personality.
The painting also reveals Hua Yan’s early talent in painting. While Wei Shijie is little known, Hua Yan would later become a well-known painter. In addition to Wei Shijie and Hua Yan, nine of Hua Yan’s contemporary friends left inscriptions on the painting.
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