I started my painting of birds and flowers since 1935, Yu Feian was 46 years old, when he turned his specialty into elaborate and realistic painting of birds and flowers which finally made his reputation.
Originally coming from Penglai, Shandong, the Yu family settled down in Beijing for a long time. Yu Feian’s mother was Manchu, He studied in traditional Chinese educational way. After graduated from Beijing Normal School, Yu made his career in primary school and worked as the art editor of Morning Newspaper. Like other Eight Banners boys, Yu got enjoyment in playing crickets, Grasshopper, planting chrysanthemum narcissus and feeding over a hundred pigeons. Yu wrote down his experience and appreciations for his habit and later it became fertile soil for his art.
Yu Feian accepted suggestions from Zhang Daqian which made him focus on elaborate and realistic painting on birds and flowers. Yu held a cooperative exhibition of carving and painting with Zhang Daqian and Fang Jiekan in Peking, 1935. Yu Feian learned skills from Wang Runxuan in bird, flower, grass and insects. He was also addicted to raise insects and make pigments. He recorded all the details in his books. Yu originally did his research on painting from Chen Hongshou in the later Ming Dynasty and his favorites is Zhao Ji’s works, the Huizong Emperor of Song Dynasty on which Yu did the most research. His vivid painting was based on his observation and real experiences which also made his own style following the ancient artists in Song and Yuan Dynasty. Yu chose carefully on high quality paper and pigment, by which made his works more delicate and fresh. His calligraphy was also combined with ancient art style, from Qing and Han Dynasty to Tang Dynasty. Following Slender Gold of Huizong emperor of Song Dynasty proved his heritage.
The traditional scholar’s painting has declined since Qing Dynasty, and Shanghai Painting School earned its reputation in the later Qing Dynasty and Republic of China. The re-flourish of traditional elaborate and realistic painting on birds and flowers links to Yu Feian’s contribution of on inheritance. The Beijing Fine Art Academy was established and Yu became the deputy director in 1957. He passed away after two years and his collections and selected works were donated to the Academy. Special thanks to Beijing Fine Art Academy, for its generous support.
This serves as the preface.
Director of Suzhou Museum
Mr. Yu Feian is a native of Beijing, inheriting the traditional culture of capital. Proper education and atmosphere of culture also raised his special character and abilities of being good at things but expert in certain area. Mr Yu started his career in education and wrote for several newspapers. He also was the famous journalist in Beijing and Tianjin. He raised pigeons and birds and planted flowers. He had wide knowledge with good memory and self-quietness. He focused on elaborated paintings of birds and flowers at middle age. Learning from Chen Hongshou in the late Ming Dynasty, Yu followed and combined art all over Five Period Dynasty, Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty. He spent plenty of time in studying the art of Huizong Emperor. He regained traditional way of paint from life, paid more attention on lives’ physics, principles and states. Yu also was inspired by folk art and tapestry and finally formed his own graceful and gorgeous style.
The Beijing Fine Art Academy was established in 1957, as young as New China things needed to be done. Mr. Yu Feian became the first deputy director of the Academy. He dealt with plenty of work carefully as an old man of age 70 and made great contribution on development and leading properly for the Academy. After his passing away in 1959, thanks to his family’s generosity, Academy received more than ten pieces of his work and a batch of his collections which became the mental treasure for generations. The Academy made systematical research and promotion on Yu Feian’s work in recent years. We organized research resourses to study collections of our own in 2007 and published catalogs and exhibitions. The Academy and Nanjing Museum held the exhibition on Yu Feian and Chen Zhifu with 70 works which showed the research on comparability between two masters. The exhibition between Academy and Shanxi Museum in 2014 exhibited all the collection from our own.
We will celebrate our 60th anniversary this year and we carried out plenty of art activities around China. The exhibition in Suzhou Museum of Yu Feian is the first time and will complete the anniversary perfectly. Suzhou Museum is one of the first team of National first class museum with huge achievements in recent years, especially the Wu School Painting is the great event of every winter. Please accept my deep appreciation to Suzhou Museum for your organization and preparation. We look so much forward to seeing more cooperation on inheriting and promoting our classical culture.
The Director of Beijing Fine Art Academy