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LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)
LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)
LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)
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LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)
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Li Dongyang, whose sobriquet was Binzhi and style name Xiya, was awarded the jinshi degree in 1464 of the Tianshun era. He served in the court for nearly fifty years and was regarded as a virtuous and wise prime minister. As a child, he displayed special a talent in calligraphy. He initially learned calligraphy by emulating the great master Yan Zhenqing (709-785). While he firmly grasped the essence of Yan’s hand, he also developed a style of his own and excelled in large cursive and seal scripts. His contemporaries praised his work as “unparalleled.” Furthermore, he was also a master in authentication and connoisseurship of paintings. No one else in the middle Ming dynasty succeeded in becoming as accomplished in so many fields as he did. Measuring ten meters in length, Poems on Planting Bamboo consists of fourteen poems and essays written in standard, running, cursive, and seal scripts. Li Dongyang completed it in 1516 for his nephew by marriage Zhang Ruji. Both the artist and the recipient were very fond of bamboo and often planted them together. The provenance of this work can be traced back to the late Ming so that its history spans nearly four hundred years and includes many important collectors virtually without interruption. Among the earliest are the collector seals of the famed Qing dynasty collector An Qi (1683-?). One of his seals appears on each of the six paper seams and the handscroll was recorded in An Qi’s treatise on paintings, Moyuan huiguan. It is particularly rare for such a long handscroll to be well preserved for over five hundred years without suffering damage or cutting, with only four characters in the frontispiece and a poem of Weng Luxu missing. The main reason for its present excellent condition is that most of the time this work was in the careful possession of experienced connoisseurs: from Weng Fanggang (1733-1818) to Ye Zhishen (1779-1863), as well as his son Ye Mingfeng (1811-1858). All of them were erudite literati interested in antiques and skilled in calligraphy. The Ye family had a strong relationship with Weng Fanggang and a great number of Weng’s treasures went into their collection. This handscroll was later owned by the Qing imperial family member and court official Aixin Jueluo Bao Xi (1871-1942) and by the great 20-century painter Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), whose seals can be found on the work. Zhang Daqian further inscribed his response, calling this “the most divine work as it contains authentic poems and calligraphy by Li Dongyang.” His admiration for and attachment to this handscroll is evident as one of his seals reads “whichever direction I go, there is only taking this piece with me and no possibility of separation.” Only a truly important work of art could have compelled a great master such as Zhang Daqian to express such a strong sentiment.
LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)

Fourteen Poems on Planting Bamboo

Details
LI DONGYANG (1447-1516)
Fourteen Poems on Planting Bamboo
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dated eighth day, second month, bingzi year of the Zhengde reign (1516) Eighteen collectors’ seals
Colophons by Hong Chu (1605-1672) with two seals
Colophons by Weng Fanggang (1733-1818) with three seals
Inscribed on the mounting by Weng Fanggang (1733-1818) with one seal
Handscroll, ink on paper
10 3/4 x 511 x 3/4 in. (27.5 x 1300 cm.)
Provenance
From the collection of Wang Nan-p’ing (1924-1985).
Literature
An Qi, compiled by Wu Chongyao and Tan Ying, Moyuan huiguan lu, in Yueyatang congshu (Yueyatang Collectanea), 1852, vol. 2.
Yale University Art Gallery, The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-p’ing Collection, New Haven, 1994, pp. 81-85, pl. 7.
Zhu Jiajin, “Li Xiya Zishushi Juan Shou Zhuanji”, Shoucang Jia, January 2000, pp. 39-43.
Exhibited
The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-p’ing Collection. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, April 9, 1993-July 31, 1994; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, September 10-November 19, 1994; Art Gallery, Chinese University of Hong Kong, December 16, 1994-February 25, 1995; Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas, April 9-June 18, 1995.

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