Provided with the painting is an official letter of evaluation by Professor Emeritus Cai Xing Yi. Professor Cai was Director of Ancient Fine Arts Research Section and Chairman of Department of Art History of Graduate School - University of Beijing, China.
Evaluation by Cai Xing Yi reads:
This painting depicts seven men of letters gathering leisurely in a bamboo grove. Relaxed and content, they are either playing chess games, strumming the zither, or composing poems.
The style of this painting is somewhat close to that of Huang Shen (1687-1772) of Young Zhou school; the techniques are very mature and experienced. The seven hermits do not appear to be inebriated. The zither held by Ruan Ji is the stringless zither known in the legend of Tao Qian. Apparently the painter is using subjects from a popular legend in his painting. This is a common characteristic of folk artists in late Qing dynasty (late 19th century).
The artist signed his name in the upper right corner; therefore, we know his name is Wu Jin, with a style name of Da Ting. His life history needs further research.
By Cai Xing Yi
Age: Qing ca 1800
Size: image 69" x 36" (175 x 91 cm); overall 83.5" x 46" (212 x 117 cm)
Media: Ink and pigment on paper