Signed and inscribed: People ask how to paint the blossoms. I say, what the ancient painters try to avoid, you follow, then you are not like ordinary people. To have no method is actually to have method. Pai-shih Mountain-hermit wrote. Upper Seal: ? Lowe Seal: Pai-shih
A black crow is seated on a plum branch above calligraphic text and cascades of open blossoms.
The subject of plum blossoms had long been a favorite among scholar-painters. Because they bloom in the very late winter, plum blossoms are likened to the scholar who thrives in adverse environments. Plum blossoms also offered the sheer formal beauty of contrast between the thrusting, angular branches and the delicate, rounded blossoms.
This painting depicts a solitary bird perched on a tropical banana plant.
In 1922, a friend persuaded Baishi to submit paintings to a Sino-Japanese art exhibition in Japan. It was a spectacular success: his paintings sold for far higher prices than he had been earning in China and several were chosen for an exhibition in Paris, which led to international fame. The Japanese remained some of Baishi’s most eager customers, although he increasingly refused their requests after Japanese incursions into China in the early 1930s.
However, this painting was a gift for the artist's Japanese friend. The artist inscription indicates that it was a farewell gift for his Japanese friend Katsuizumi Sotokichi when he left Beijing for a more southerly post.
It perhaps anticipates that Katsuizumi would be lonely in his new environment. Made in probably the 1920s, it quietly bears witness to an earlier and more congenial phase in Chinese-Japanese relations.