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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Study of Li Yanshan (1898-1961): Model of Emulating Landscape Painting from Ancient Masters in the 20th Century
by Lu, Yu, Ph.D., The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong), 2017, 447; 10753201
Abstract (Summary)

The number of the masterpieces done by great artists through Song down to Qing dynasty, which were emulated by Li Yanshan (1898-1961), reaches more than sixty pieces; such quantity is a rarity in Chinese history. Li consciously chose to emulate instead of copying wholly, an interesting characteristic among the traditional painters.

By summarizing the painting styles of different periods, Li Yanshan makes great personal advancements, forming a distinctive personal style, especially on the subject of landscape and bamboo. However, there are still blanks to be filled in the research of Li Yanshan, an artist that was hardly studied before. On one hand, for most part of his life, he was a judge and a headmaster of a school, before he seriously started to view himself as a painter. On the other, because of his versatile styles, it becomes a rather challenging job to document his works and life. As the teacher of Lui Shou Kwan ( [special characters omitted]) who is the co-founder and promoter of Chinese contemporary Ink Paintings, as well as the first and second Chairman of the HK Chinese Art Association [special characters omitted]), Li Yanshan was a pivotal figure in Chinese art history, especially for modern Hong Kong art history. On account of all the above, this thesis documents more than six-hundred different sets of works by Li, including his smaller works, calligraphy notes and inscriptions, recording the evolvement of his styles against different periods of his life, prevailing value systems and political climates from the Qing Dynasty, the Republican period, to the time after the liberation of Mainland China. The aim is to restore the painter in a context of his own time. This is the first academic documentation of Li Yanshan's life and works in chronological order, filling a blank of Hong Kong art history.

As During an interesting turning point in Chinese history, Li Yanshan was blessed with such an opportunity to view and study ancient masterpieces in huge quantity. The hermit-like Li Yanshan chose consciously to lead a recluse life like his Yuan dynasty counterparts, which resulted in his materials being scattered in the US, Canada, the UK, Hong Kong, Mainland China and the China Taiwan area and so on. Together with the oral accounts by his close friends, relatives, students, collectibles and repurchased information, the thesis attempts to comb through Li Yanshan's entire life with the assistance of common sense; this thesis further discusses the inheritance and development of the traditional Chinese arts by Li, the emulation and rendering of ancient masters by artists from different schools since Ming dynasty, including the Four Wang of the Qing Dynasty, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong schools during the Republican period, and how emulation contributes to personal styles as exemplified by Li Yanshan. In the end, the thesis will comment on Li Yanshan's art as well as his contribution to the art history, thus shedding some new lights to the inheritance and development of traditional art.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tang, Tong Kam
Commitee: Bai, Qianshen, Mok, Kar Leung Harold, Tang, Tong Kam, Zhou, Jin
School: The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Department: History of Chinese Art
School Location: Hong Kong
Source: DAI-A 79/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian Studies, Fine arts, Art Criticism, Art history
Keywords: Bamboo and rock, Citation and imitation, Ink and brush, Ink and water, Landscape, Li Yanshan
Publication Number: 10753201
ISBN: 978-0-355-55292-8
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