Huizong was the eighth emperor of the Song dynasty and the most artistically accomplished of his imperial line. Finches and Bamboo exemplifies the realistic style of flower-and-bird painting practiced at Huizong’s academy. Whether making a study from nature or illustrating a line of poetry, however, the emperor valued capturing the spirit of a subject over literal representation. Here the minutely observed finches are imbued with the vitality of their living counterparts. Drops of lacquer added to the birds’eyes impart a final lifelike touch.