Image (each): 74 3/4 x 21 3/4 in. (189.9 x 55.2 cm)
Overall with mounting (each): 106 3/16 x 22 3/8 in. (269.7 x 56.8 cm)
Overall with knobs (each): 106 3/16 x 23 in. (269.7 x 58.4 cm)
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Not on view
Li Kan was a northern Chinese who entered the service of the Mongol government at an early period and rose to a high position in the Yuan court. The author of an authoritative treatise on bamboo painting, Li stated that the painter must possess "the complete bamboo in [his] breast," and he urged statesmen to take up bamboo painting to discipline their minds and expand their breadth of vision.
Li completed these panels in 1318, the year the Mongol regime reinstituted the civil-service examinations, the chief means for scholars to gain access to official positions. The painting is done in the shuangou, or "double-outline," style of bamboo painting. This technique, in which finely drawn ink outlines are filled in with dense mineral pigments, was ideally suited to Li Kan's intense identification with bamboo. Minutely observed and intricately rendered, these noble plants take on a heightened sense of reality that approaches portraiture.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (1 column in semi-cursive script)
The Daoist Xizhai [Li Kan] painted this in the winter of the wuwu year during the Yanyou reign era .
Li Kan Zhongbin 李衎仲賓 Xizhai 息齋
Ming dynasty palace inventory half-seal (1373–1384) 囗囗囗囗司印