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A native of Nantong, Jiangsu province, during the early Yongzheng reign (1722-1735), Li Fangying was recommended for the title "Worthy and Excellent" (xianliang fangzheng); the title was bestowed on men within and without the civil service who were recommended by eminent officials and succeeded in an examination presided over by the Emperor. He served successively as the Magistrate of Lanshan, Shandong province, as well as Magistrate of Hefei, Anhui province. Not willing to ingratiate himself with his superiors, he was expelled from office. Although living in Nanjing, he often went to Yangzhou, selling his paintings to earn a living. Listed as one of the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou" (Yangzhou Baguai), he was proficient in painting pines, bamboo, orchids and chrysanthemum, particularly excelling in painting plum blossoms.
This painting depicts an ancient pine, standing tall and robust in the wind just as an old man who has experienced many vicissitudes of life. The simple composition brushed with vigorous strokes is a profoundly conceptualized image of the painter's upright personality. It typifies Li Fangying's paintings in his old age.