Five Scholars of the T'ang Dynasty

Liu Sung-nien (active 121h century), Sung dynasty (A.D. 960-1279)
Color on silk. Hanging scroll. 174.7x106.6 cm

Liu Sung-nien, a native of Chekiang, was a student in the Painting Academy and later served as a Painter-in-Attendance during the Shao-hsi period (A.D. 1190-1195). He lived outside the Ch'ing-p'o Gate so people called him Liu Ch'ing-p'o. He was also called An-men Liu. He learned the an of painting landscapes and figures from Chang Tun-li. Liu's painting often are said to have a pure and exquisite spirit, and, at the time, they were consider second to none.
The T'ang Emperor T'ai-tsung (r. A.D. 626-649) ordered the court painter Yen Li-pen to paint the eighteen scholars of the Wen-hsueh Kuan. From this point on, the theme became popular with Chinese painters. This painting depicts five of the eighteen scholars, namely, Lu Te-ming, K'ung Ying-ta, Li Hsuan-tao, Fang Hsuan-lin and Su Hsu, at a literary gathering. The figures and setting of this painting are exactly like those in the third section of Liu Sung-nien's handscroll "The Eighteen Scholars of the T'ang Dynasty." Thus, it is probably one of four scrolls which together would have formed the theme of "The EiEhteen Scholars of the T'ang Dynasty."

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