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LANDSCAPE IN THE SIX DYNASTIES STYLE
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Inventory Number
HKU.P.1966.0310
Category In English
Paintings
Object Name
Landscape in the Six Dynasties Style
Periods / Dynasties
1793 -
Materials
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk
No. of Items (in a Set)
1
Dimensions
L:108, W:47
Descriptions in English
LI Jian (1747 - 1799)
This colourful autumnal landscape was painted with a combination of ink and mineral pigments, including malachite, gold and cinnabar. Autumn leaves and the robes of a scholar in a pavilion stand out in bright red,in pleasing contrast with the muted colours of the silk background. In the distance, the silhouette of a mountain range appears in flat ink, applied using the ‘boneless’ technique (mogu) in which an ink wash is used directly without a delineating outline. In the inscription, Li Jian mentions his use of techniques developed in the Six Dynasties period (220–589 CE), particularly the boneless technique of Zhang Sengyou (479–?). Although no paintings by Zhang survive today, later Ming and Qing dynasty painters like Wen Zhengming (1470–1559) made copies of his work. The thatched cottage and figure in the foreground appear similar to those painted by Wen Zhengming, suggesting that Li Jian may have imitated Zhang Sengyou through Wen Zhengming.
A talented poet and celebrated painter, Li Jian was influenced by many earlier landscape painters, such as Ni Zan (1306–1374) and Shi Tao (1642–1707). He used several courtesy names, including Jiamin and Weicai.Because he lived in a scenic area between the Dongqiao (‘East Firewood’) and Xiqiao (‘West Firewood’) mountains,he was also called ‘Erqiao’ (‘Two Firewoods’), and was known as one of the ‘Four Painters of Lingnan’, together with Zhang Jinfang (1747–1792), Huang Danshu (1757–1808) and Lü Jian (1742–1813). Most of Li’s paintings were produced during trips between his hometown of Shunde and Guangzhou, when Li would sell his works and teach to earn a living. The inscription on this work includes the name ‘Village of Red Flowers’, a village in Foshan not far from Guangzhou, where it was likely painted.

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