The Paintings of Emperor Huizong of Song

On August 12, 2014 by Tim Newman

Emperor Huizong - Song Palace

Emperor Huizong was the 8th emperor of the Song Dynasty and was a dab hand with a paintbrush. Born in 1082 Huizong was the 11th son of Emperor Shenzong and reigned from 1100-1126. Huizong was famed for his promotion of Taoism and his love of poetry, calligraphy, painting and musicianship. So he wasn’t what might be expected from a bold and strong kingly king of the 12th century.

I came across a collection of some of his 6,000 paintings and I was rather taken by them, so I’ve popped a few up here for you to enjoy.

Emperor Huizong - A woman of Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong - Calligraphy

Emperor Huizong was well renowned for his artistry and love of all things beautiful. He had his own court painters who were pre-screened for their skills before entering the court. He was an able polymath and developed a depth of knowledge about religion, medicine and tea.

His love of the arts may have helped precipitate his downfall: he neglected the army. The Song’s former allies – the Jin – noticed this military weakness and attacked. As the troops marched in Huizong abdicated, left his son in charge and legged it from the city. So bravery wasn’t exactly his strong point. Not all of Song’s court was as chicken as Huizong though and the invaders were kept at bay. However, a crippling financial treaty left the Song Dynasty paying tribute to the Jin every year.

Emperor Huizong - Crane

Asia Collection

Emperor Huizong - Finches and Bamboo

The Jin hadn’t finished with the Songs either. A few months later they attacked again and this time got through the sturdy city walls. There were wild days to follow with the Jin looting, murdering and raping throughout the city. Huizong, his son Qinzong and the entire Song court were captured and taken to northern Manchuria. Huizong and Qinzong were demoted to normal citizenship and Huizong spent his last eight years of life in captivity.

Emperor Huizong - Lady Emperor Huizong - Peach Blossom and Dove

So although he wasn’t necessarily a brave or wise emperor, he was a talented artist and at least his paintings lives on.

Emperor Huizong - art

Emperor Huizong - Two women working

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