c.600 - 673
Chinese Painter

Li-pen, or Yan Liben, was a painter, calligraph and statesman. He created many historical paintings and a famous scroll depicting sixteen Chinese scholars.

He also painted Buddhist themes and popular figures, among them 'The Tea drinker'. As calligraph he embellished the Chinese characters.

Li-pen became the most celebrated court painter of the 7th cent. and held several high public offices. Although probably none of his original works survives today, records tell us that he was most renowned for his paintings of Buddhist and Taoist themes and also as the painter of historical personages and events.

The superb scroll painting Portraits of Thirteen Emperors in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has been attributed to him but may be a copy. It represents the peak of early T'ang art.

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