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Yan Liben or Yen Li-Penlocked


Chinese, 7th century, male.

Active during the Tang dynasty.

Born c. 600, in Wannian (Shenxi); died 673.


Yan Liben was a senior official, painter and architect who worked at the Tang capital, Chang’an. Along with his brother Yan Lide, he was one of the towering figures of Tang civilisation, that great dynasty whose influence would be felt for centuries. He was born into a family from the grand aristocracy. His mother was a Zhou princess and his father, Yan Bi, a celebrated painter and architect during the Northern Zhou and Sui dynasties who, as president of imperial works under Emperor Yangdi (605-617), had directed a number of works including the construction of the Grand Canal and the restoration of the Great Wall. He would hand on his skills and knowledge to his sons Liben and Lide. Lide, in fact, would in turn become minister of public works and build palaces, fortifications and imperial tombs, which he would adorn with paintings....

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