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Pine with Vines

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Period: Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink and color on paper
Format: hanging scroll

Date: 1730
Artist(s): Li Shan (1686-1762)

Dimensions: h: 124 cm, w: 62.6 cm

Li Shan entered the court for a second time in August, 1730 at the age of forty-five. He was faithful to his painting style and did not follow the court style to ingratiate himself with emperor. In October, he executed Pine with Vines and affixed two seals. It depicts umber vines twining around a strong pine. In the inscription, he wrote a poetic parable on the reciprocal relationship between the tree and vine, 
  Disordered lines are textured freely shaped like dragon and snake,   
  No one can gain fame and fortune without external factors;   
  A pine covered with vines seems greener,   
  Vines climbing on pines reach higher and flower more.   
  And added, "Li Shan painted in tenth month of the eighth year of the Yongzheng reign [1730]." The inscription suggests that it is an ironic painting. The pine represents the official in a high position. People who fawn on him make him seem more powerful. Backed by the official, people in lower position, like vines, could receive more benefits or rise to high position.   
  The light colors and strong brush lines contribute to an elegant composition. Because the artist expertly controlled the ink wash, the painting looks fresh and wet as if newly done. This painting is one of the artist's finest works, representing his distinctive painting style. It is included in Antiques Canon of The Palace Museum: Volume I (Gugong wenwu dadian, huihua juan).

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