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date: 22 January 2020

Li Gonglin [Li Kung-lin; zi Boshi; hao Longmian, Longmian Jushi; Li Lung-mien]locked

(b Shucheng County, Anhui Province, c. 1047; d 1106).
  • Roderick Whitfield

Extract

[Li Kung-lin; zi Boshi; hao Longmian, Longmian Jushi; Li Lung-mien]

(b Shucheng County, Anhui Province, c. 1047; d 1106).

Chinese painter and collector. He was from a family of scholar-officials, possibly related to the Li clan who were rulers of the Southern Tang (ad 937–75). In 1070 he passed the national civil-service examinations to gain the title of jinshi, which in the Song period (960–1279) was the culmination of scholarly achievement and means to the highest official careers. Li Gonglin, however, began by retiring to his native district.

Little is known of Li’s life during the 1070s. He was joined by friends in the mountains, and around 1076 went to Nanjing to visit the reformer Wang Anshi (1021–86). In early 1078, Li bought land in Mt Longmian, south-west of Shucheng, and began building a villa that he later depicted in a handscroll painting. A surviving copy of this painting is Shanzhuang tu (‘Longmian mountain villa’; Taipei, N. Pal. Mus.), one scene of which, ‘Hall of Ink Meditation’, alludes to Li’s practice of calligraphy and painting as a means to enlightenment; there are also other versions (Beijing, Pal. Mus. and Florence, I Tatti). In ...

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