Litchis and Parrots by Ju Lian, hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; Qing Dynasty


Are you attracted by this painting if you like the taste of litchis? Do you think that the litchis in the upper part of the picture are just right ripe? The little cicada has also been lured by the squashy litchis! Two chubby parrots stand and rest on the stone under the branches. The fragrant and graceful orchid flowers at ordinary times have now burst forth with full energy. A beautiful summer comes to life on the paper in this way. This painting not only depicted gorgeous scenery, but also covered fine implications. For instance, litchis stand for good fortune and more blessings in Lingnan area; two parrots not only imply harmonious coexistence, but also present the meaning of its homophone "valiant"; the scene of cicada chirping highly on the branches implies gentleman's long-term view; fragrant orchid flowers stand for gentleman's nobility and purity. 

Why does this painting seem full of life and dense sense of light and shadow? That's because the painter applied the creative techniques named " dipping powders or water into color " in composing this painting. He injected proper amounts of powders and water into the picture before the colors went completely dry, so as to bring up the mellow and plump forms and the artistic changing effect of shadows. 

The creator of such unique artistic effect was exactly the artist of this painting Ju Lian. Ju Lian was born in Panyu, Guangdong. His parents both died in his childhood. He lived a poor and plain life. During the reign of Emperor Daoguang, he traveled and stayed in Guangxi with his cousin and learned from Meng Jinyi and Song Guangbao. After that, he creatively established the techniques of " dipping powders or water into color " and initiated the gorgeous, graceful bird-and-flower paintings in the Lingnan region.