Song scholar-artists believed that painting was not just a record of sensory experience but also a reflection of the artist's mind, a revelation of his personality, and an expression of deeply held values. In giving form to this ideal, Li Gonglin fundamentally transformed Chinese art. Prior to Li's time, painting served a public function: it was primarily decorative or didactic in intent. With Li, painting joined music, poetry, and calligraphy as a medium of self-expression. Li's revolutionary new style established the three essential desiderata of scholar-painting: moral purpose, learned stylistic references to the past, and expressive calligraphic brushwork.
The Classic of Filial Piety, composed between 350 and 200 B.C., teaches a simple but all-embracing lesson: beginning humbly at home, filial piety not only ensures success in a man's life but also brings peace and harmony to the world at large. During the Song dynasty, the text became one of the thirteen classics of the Neo-Confucian canon and remained a cornerstone of traditional Chinese moral teaching until modern times.
Purposefully restrained and without the decorative appeal of color, Li's paintings alternate with his transcriptions of brief chapters from the Classic. The images do more than illustrate the text; using his art to criticize, exhort, and subvert, Li presents subtle commentaries on the Classic's moral relevance to the Song world. Like the paintings, the calligraphy is executed in an archaic style instantly recognizable to the connoisseur as a sophisticated plea for a return to simple virtues and plain-living rectitude.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
a, section 1
a, section 2
a, section 3
a, section 4
a, section 5
a, section 6
a, section 7
b, colophon section 2
b, colophon section 3
b, colophon section 4
b, colophon section 5
b, colophon section 5
b, colophon section 7
c, section 1, chapter 3
c, section 2, chapter 4
c, section 3, chapter 5
c, section 4, chapter 7
c, section 5, chapter 8
c, section 6, chapter 8
c, section 6, chapter 9 text
c, section 7, chapter 10
c, section 9, chapter 11
c, section 9, chapter 12
c, section 10, chapter 13
c, section 11, chapter 14
c, section 12, chapter 15
c, section 13, chapter 16
c, section 14, chapter 17
c, section 15, chapter 18
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
北宋 李公麟 孝經圖 卷
Title:The Classic of Filial Piety
Artist:Li Gonglin (Chinese, ca. 1041–1106)
Period:Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)
Medium:Handscroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:Overall (a, painting): 8 5/8 x 187 1/4 in. (21.9 x 475.6 cm) Overall (b, colophons): 10 3/8 x 208 5/8 in. (26.4 x 529.9 cm) Overall (c, modern copy preserving seventeenth century silk restorations): 9 1/8 x 196 in. (23.2 x 497.8 cm)
Credit Line:Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, From the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family Collection, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 1996
Inscription: Artist's inscriptions and signature (86 columns in standard script in 17 sections, each following an illustration except the first and the fifth)
1. 3 columns in standard script [Chapter 2: Filial Piety in the Son of Heaven天子章第二, illustration not extant]:
He who loves his parents will not dare to hate any man….. (p. 85)
2. 4 columns in standard script [Chapter 3: Filial Piety in the Princes of State 諸侯章第三]:
When a prince is not proud and arrogant, he will not incur peril in spite of his high position. By exercising self-restraint he is judicious, ever keeping a proper balance between his need and use of material things. By such moderation his cup of wealth is full without wasteful overflow. And thus, preserving wealth and rank, he will be able to retain possession of his altars of the land and the grain and keep his subjects in peace. This is the filial piety for the prince of state. It is said in the Book of Songs: Be apprehensive, be cautious, As if on the brink of a deep abyss, As if treading on thin ice. (p. 88)
3. 5 columns in standard script [Chapter 4: Filial Piety in High Ministers and Great Officers 卿大夫章第四]:
They do not presume to wear robes other than those appointed by the laws of the ancient kings, nor to speak words other than those sanctioned by them, nor to exhibit conduct other than that exemplified by their virtuous ways. Thus, none of their words being contrary to those sanctions, and none of their actions contrary to the Way, from their mouths there comes no objectionable speech, and in their conduct there are found no objectionable actions. Their words may fill all under heaven, yet no error of speech will be found in them. Their actions may fill all under heaven, yet no dissatisfaction or dislike will be awakened by them. When these three things are all complete, and as they should be, they can then preserve their ancestral temples. This is the filial piety of high ministers and great officers. In the Book of Songs it is said: He is never idle, day or night, In the service of the One Man. (p. 93)
4. 4 columns in standard script [Chapter 5: Filial Piety in Lesser Officials 士章第五]:
As they serve their fathers, so they serve their mothers, and they love them equally. As they serve their fathers, so they serve their rulers, and they reverence them equally. Hence, love is what is chiefly rendered to the ruler, while both of these things are given to the father. Therefore, when they serve their ruler with filial piety they are loyal; when they serve their superior with reverence they are obedient. Not failing in this loyalty and obedience in serving those above them, they are then able to preserve their emoluments and positions, and to maintain their sacrifices. This is the filial piety of the lesser officials. It is said in the Book of Songs: Rising early and going to sleep late, Do not disgrace those who gave you birth. (p. 98)
5. 3 columns in standard script [Chapter 6: Filial Piety in the Common People 庶人章第六, illustration not extant]:
They follow the course of heaven, and distinguish the advantages of the soil; they are careful of their conduct, and economical in their expenditure—all in order to nourish their parents. This is the filial piety of the common people. In this way, from the Son of Heaven down to the common people, there has never been one whose filial piety was without its beginning or its end upon whom calamity did not fall. (p. 102)
6. 6 columns in standard script [Chapter 7: Filial Piety in Relation to the Three Powers三才章第七]:
Zengzi said, “Immense indeed is the greatness of filial piety!” The Master replied, “Yes, filial piety is the constant pattern of heaven, the righteousness of earth, and the duty of man. Heaven and earth inevitably pursue their course, and the people take it as their pattern. The ancient kings imitated the brilliant luminaries of heaven, and acted in accordance with the advantages afforded by the earth, and were thus in accord with all under heaven. Consequently, their teachings were successful without being severe, and their government secured perfect order without being repressive. The ancient kings, seeing how their teachings could transform the people, set before them therefore an example of the most extended love, and none of the people neglected their parents; they set forth to them the example of virtue and righteousness, and the people roused themselves to the practice of them; they went before them with reverence and yielding courtesy, and the people had no contentions; they led them by the rules of propriety and by music, and the people were harmonious and benign; they showed them what they liked and disliked, and the people understood their prohibitions. It is said in the Book of Songs:
Awe-inspiring are you, O Grand Master Yin, And all of the people look up to you.” (p. 105)
7. 7 columns in standard script [Chapter 8: Filial Piety in Government 孝治章第八]:
The Master said, “In former times, when the intelligent kings by means of filial piety ruled all under heaven, they did not dare to receive with disrespect the ministers even of small states. How much less would they have dared with dukes, marquises, counts, and barons! Thus it was that they got the myriad states to serve with joyful hearts their royal ancestors. “The rulers of states did not dare to slight wifeless men and widows. How much less would they slight their officers and subjects! Thus it was that they got all the people to serve with joyful hearts the rulers, their predecessors. “The heads of clans did not dare to slight their servants and concubines. How much less would they slight their wives and sons! Thus it was that they got the men in the service of their parents with joyful hearts. “In such a state of things, the parents, while alive, reposed in their songs; and when sacrificed to, their disembodied spirits enjoyed the offerings made to them. Thus, everywhere under heaven, peace and harmony prevailed; disaster and calamities did not occur; misfortunes and rebellions did not arise. It is said in the Book of Songs: To upright and virtuous conduct In all the four quarters of the state, render obedient homage.” (p. 109)
8. 14 columns in standard script [Chapter 9: The Government of the Stages 聖治章第九]:
Zengzi said, “I venture to ask whether in the virtues of the sages there was not something greater than filial piety.” The Master replied, “Of all the living natures produced by heaven and earth, man is the noblest. Of all the actions of man, there is none greater than filial piety. In filial piety there is nothing greater than the reverential awe of one’s father. In the reverential awe shown to one’s father there is nothing greater than making him the companion of heaven. The duke of Zhou was the man who first did this. Formerly, at the border altar, the duke of Zhou sacrificed to Houji as the companion of heaven, and in the Bright Hall he honored King Wen, and sacrificed to him as the companion of God. As a consequence, all of the princes within the Four Seas came to offer assistance in the performance of the sacrifices. In the virtue of the sages, what is there greater than filial piety? Now, the feelings of affection grow at the parents’ knees, and as the nourishing of the parents is practiced those affections merge into awe. The sages proceeded from awe to reverence, and from affection to love. The teaching of the sages, without being severe, were successful, and their government, without being rigorous, was effective. What they proceeded from was the roof of filial piety. The relationship and duties between father and son are of heaven-sent nature, and hold the principle of righteousness between ruler and subject. The son derives his life from his parents, and no greater gift can be transmitted. Ruler and parents in one, his gather deals with him accordingly, and there is no generosity greater than this. Therefore, he who does not love his parents, but instead loves other men, is called a rebel against virtue. He who does not revere his parents, but reveres instead other men, is called a rebel against propriety. When a ruler himself thus acts contrary to that which should place him in accord with all men, he presents nothing for the people to imitate. He has nothing to do with what is good, but entirely and only with what is injurious to virtues. Though he may succeed, the superior man does not give him approval. It is not so with the superior man. He speaks, having thought whether the words should be spoken; he acts, having thought whether his actions are certain to give pleasure. His virtue and righteousness are such as will be honored; what he initiates and carries out is fit to be imitated; his deportment is worthy of contemplation; his movements in advancing or retiring are all according to the proper rule. In this way does he present himself to the people, who both revere and love him, imitate and become like him. Thus he is able to make his teaching of virtue successful, and his government and orders to be carried into effect. It is said in the Book of Songs: The virtuous man, the princely one, Has no flaw in his deportment.” (p. 113)
9. 5 columns in standard script [Chapter 10: An orderly Description of the Acts of Filial Piety 紀孝行章第十]:
The Master said, “The service which a son renders to his parents is as follows. In his general conduct toward them he manifests the utmost reverence. In his nourishing of them, his endeavor is to give them the utmost pleasure. When they are ill, he feels the greatest anxiety. In mourning for them, he exhibits every manifestation of grief. In sacrificing to them, he displays the utmost solemnity. When a son is complete in these five things, he is able to serve his parents. He who thus serves his parents, in a high situation, will be free from pride; in a low situation, will be free from insubordination; and, among his equals, will not be quarrelsome. In a high situation pride leads to ruin; in a low situation insubordination leads to punishment; among equals quarrelsomeness leads to the wielding of weapons. If those three things be not put away, even though a son every day contributes beef, mutton, and pork to nourish his parents, he is not filial.” (p. 118)
10. 2 columns in standard script [Chapter 11: Filial Piety in Relation to the Five Punishments 五刑章第十一]:
The Master said, “There are three thousand offenses against which the five punishments are directed, and there is not one of them greater than being unfilial. When constraint is put upon a ruler, that is the disowning of his superiority. When the authority of the sages is disallowed, that is the disowning of law. When filial piety is put aside, that is the disowning of the principle of affection. This paves the way to anarchy.” (p. 122)
11. 4 columns in standard script [Chapter 12: Amplification of “The All-Embracing Rule of Conduct” in Chapter 1廣要道章第十二]:
The Master said, “For teaching the people to be affectionate and loving there is nothing better than filial piety. For teaching them propriety and submissiveness there is nothing better than fraternal duty. For changing their manners and altering their customs there is nothing better than music. For securing the repose of superiors and the good order of the people there is nothing better than propriety. Propriety is simply respect. Therefore, the respect paid to one’s father pleases all sons; the respect paid to one’s elder brother pleases all younger sons; the respect paid to one’s ruler pleases all subjects. The respect paid to one man pleases thousands and myriads of men. The respect is paid to a few and the pleasure extends to many—this is what is meant by the Essential Way.” (p. 127)
12. 4 columns in standard script [Chapter 13: Amplification of “The Perfect Virtue” in Chapter 1 廣至德章第十三]:
The master said, “The teaching of filial piety by the superior man does not require that he should go to family after family, and daily see the members of each. His teaching of filial piety is a tribute of reverence to all the fathers under heaven. His teaching of fraternal submission is a tribute of reverence to all the elder brothers under heaven. His teaching of the duty of a subject is a tribute of reverence to all the rulers under heaven. It is said in the Book of Songs: The happy and courteous sovereign Is the parent of the people. “If it were not a perfect virtue, how could it be recognized as in accordance with their nature by the people so extensively as this?” (p. 132)
13. 3 columns in standard script [Chapter 14: Amplification of “Making Our Name Famous” in Chapter 1 廣揚名章第十四]:
The Master said, “The filial piety with which the superior man serves his parents may be transferred as loyalty to the ruler. The fraternal duty with which he serves the eldest brother may be transferred as submissive deference to elders. His regulation of his family may be transferred as good government in any official position. Therefore, when his conduct is thus successful in his inner circle, his name will be established for future generations.” (p. 136)
14. 7 columns in standard script [Chapter 15: Filial Piety in Relation to Reproof and Remonstrance 諫諍章第十五]:
Zengzi said: “I have heard your instructions on the affection of love, on respect and reverence, on giving repose to our parents, and on making our names famous. I would venture to ask if simple obedience to the orders of one’s father can be pronounced filial piety?” The Master replied: “What words are these! What words are these! In former times, if the Son of Heaven had seven ministers who would remonstrate with him, although he had not right methods of government, he would not lose possession of his kingdom; if the prince of a state had five such ministers, though his measures might be equally wrong, he would not lose his state; if a great officer had three, he would not, in a similar case, lose his clan; if an inferior officer had a friend who would remonstrate with him, a good name would not cease to be connected with his character; and the father who had a son that would remonstrate with him would not sink into the gulf or unrighteous deeds. Therefore, where a case of unrighteous conduct is concerned, a son must by no means keep from remonstrating with his father, nor a minister from remonstrating with his ruler. Hence, since remonstrance is required in the case of unrighteous conduct, how can simple obedience to the order of a father be accounted filial piety?” (p. 137)
15. 5 columns in standard script [Chapter 16: The Influence of Filial Piety and the Response to It 感應章第十六]:
The Master said, “In former times, the intelligent kings served their fathers with filial piety, and therefore they served earth with discrimination. They pursued the right course with reference to their seniors and juniors, and therefore they secured the regulation of the relations between superiors and inferiors everywhere. When heaven and earth were served with intelligence and discrimination, their spiritual intelligences displayed themselves. Therefore, even the Son of Heaven must have some whom he honors; that is, he has his uncles of his surname. He must have some to whom he concedes precedence; that is, he has his cousins, who bear the same surname, and are older than himself. In the ancestral temple he manifests the utmost reverence, showing that he does not forget his parents. He cultivates his person and is careful of his conduct, fearing lest he should disgrace his predecessors. When in the ancestral temple he exhibits the utmost reverence, the spirits of the departed manifest themselves. Perfect filial piety and fraternal duty reach to the spiritual intelligences, and diffuse their light on all within the Four Seas. They penetrate everywhere. It is said in the Book of Songs: From the west to the east, From the south to the north, There was not a thought but did him homage.” (p. 143)
16. 7 columns in standard script [Chapter 17: The Service of the Ruler 事君章第十七]:
The Master said, “The superior man serves his ruler in such a way that, when at court in his presence, his thought is how to discharge his loyal duty to the utmost; and, when he retires from it, his thought is how to amend his errors. He carries out with deference the measures springing from his ruler’s excellent qualities, and rectifies him only to preserve him from what is evil. Hence, as superior and inferior they are able to have affection for one another. It is said in the Book of Songs: In my heart I love him so, And why should I not say so? In the core of my heart I keep him, And never will forget him.” (p. 147)
17. 6 columns in standard script, illustration between columns 4 and 5 [Chapter 18: Filial Piety in Mourning for Parents 喪親章第十八]:
The Master said, “When a filial son is mourning for a parent, he wails, but not with a prolonged sobbing; in the movements of ceremony, he pays no attention to his appearance; his words are without elegance of phrase; he cannot bear to wear fine clothes; when he hears music, he feels no delight; when he eats a delicacy, he is not conscious of its flavor. Such is the nature of grief and sorrow. “After three days, he may partake of food; for thus the people are taught that the living should not be injured on account of the dead, and that emaciation must not be carried to the extinction of life. Such is the rule of the sages. The period of mourning does not extend beyond three years, to show the people that it must have an end. “An inner and an outer coffin are made; the grave clothes also are put on, and the shroud; and the body is lifted into the coffin. The sacrificial vessels, round and square, are set forth, and cause further distress. The women beat their breasts and the men stamp their feet, wailing and weeping, while they sorrowfully escort the coffin to the grave. They consult the tortoiseshell to determine the grave and the ground about it, and they lay the body in peace. They prepare the ancestral temple, and there present offerings to the disembodied spirit. In the spring and autumn they offer sacrifices, thinking of the deceased as the seasons come round. “The services of love and reverence to parents when alive, and those of grief and sorrow when they are dead—these completely discharge the fundamental duty of living men. The righteous claims of life and death are all satisfied, and the filial son’s service to his parents is completed.” (p. 150) Gonglin
1. Wu Zi 吳咨 (1813–1858), 2 columns in seal and standard scripts; 1 seal:
宋李伯時畫 《孝經圖》 並書 《孝經》 真蹟，寄舫鑒藏。吳咨題。 [印]： 吳咨之印
2. Jin Shiyi 金時儀 (active ca. 1736–1796), 2 columns in standard script:
Classic of Filial Piety painted by Li Boshi [Li Gonglin] of the Song dynasty, who also transcribed the text. Respectfully kept by Wang Lingwen [Wang Tingzhang] in his Hall of the Classic of Filial Piety. Label strip written by Jin Shiyi from Zhenzhou [in Jiangxu].
宋李伯時畫 《孝經圖》 並書經文。孝經堂汪令聞敬藏，真州金時儀書籤。
1. Niu Shuyu 鈕樹玉 (1760–1827), 3 large characters in seal script and 2 columns in standard script, dated 1826; 1 seal:
Classic of Filial Piety Niu Shuyu respectfully inscribed this on the tenth day of the ninth month of the sixth year of the Daoguang reign era . [Seal]: Wuxing Niu Shuyu Feishi yin
《孝經圖》 道光六年九月十日鈕樹玉敬題。 [印]： 吳興鈕樹玉非石印
2. Wu Zi 吳咨 (1813–1858), 7 large characters in seal script and 2 columns in standard script, undated; 2 seals:
李伯時畫 《孝經圖》，以和二兄屬。吳咨題。 [印]： 吳咨之印、聖俞
1. Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555–1636), 5 columns in standard script, undated; 2 seals
In the Xuanhe huapu it is said that in his calligraphy Li Longmian revered the masters of the Wei and Jin periods. In this scroll he took as his model the "Memorial Recommending Ji Zhi" (Jian Ji Zhi biao) of Zhong You (151-230). At the end of the scroll is the signature "Gonglin." This is not seen in other works by him. I have had the calligraphy reproduced in the first Juan of my collection of model calligraphy, Xihongtang [fatie]. As to the subtle beauty of his painting technique, it directly follows Gu Hutou (Gu Kaizhi). Together, his painting and calligraphy are worthy of being called "The Two Nonpareils." (p. 156) Inscribed by Dong Qichang at Xihong Tang. [Seals]: Dong Qichang, Xuanzai
3. Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555–1636), 2 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:
The characters yin ("abundant") and Jing ("to respect") are written incompletely in this scroll in order to avoid offending the Song imperial family. The same taboos are observed in the calligraphy of Mi Fu. (p. 157) Qichang [Seal]: Dong Qichang
In his Yunyan guoyan lu, Zhou Mi records a Xiaojing tu with both painting and calligraphy by Li Boshi. That is this scroll. Whereas none of Boshi's other paintings are signed, this one has the signature "Gonglin," which suggests that it was painted for the emperor. (p. 157) [Seals]: Zhizhigao yue jiangguan, Dong Qichang yin
6. Zhang Yuesong 張岳崧 (1773–1842), 1 column in standard script, undated; 1 seal:
7. Hong Ying 洪瑩 (active ca. 1800), 15 columns in standard script, undated; 2 seals:
…… Is there not a deep and mysterious destiny of brush and ink, protected by a guardian deity who will not permit this holy thing to leave this land? This scroll, which illustrates the Classic of Filial Piety, is a legacy from the worthies of old. Its affinity to the renowned teachings of Confucius is great indeed! It is worthy of esteem therefore not merely because its excellence of brush and ink is unsurpassed through all time. Those who follow me should think deeply and long on this that they might guard and protect it without remiss. (p. 162) [Seals]: Chen Ying siyin, Qian’an
8. Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797), 3 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:
Of the paintings attributed to Li Gonglin that I have seen, eight or nine out of every ten have been forgeries. As for this Xiaojing tu, not only is the quality of the painting itself lofty but the calligraphy, too, is of unsurpassed excellence. It deserves to be called the finest Longmian [Li Gonglin] painting in the world; a treasure worth 10,000 gold. Recorded by Bi Long. (p. 161) [Seal]: Bi Long qingshang
9. Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797), 6 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 3 seals:
In the Collected Colophons of Su Shih (Dongpo tiba), there is a colophon to Li Boshi's Xiaojing tu: "When we look at these pictures, feelings of warm, loving duty and loyalty toward our parents well up within us. Its superb brushwork is not inferior to that of Gu Kaizhi and Lu Tanwei. As for the final chapter, in which all that a son finds unbearable is described, the painter has conveys these meanings in only the faintest suggestion of form. None but a truly superior man possessing the Way could achieve this level. Gu and Lu did not reach it." The painting that Su Shi inscribed was in all probability this one. His colophon was simply cut off during the period of Emperor Huizong's ban on his calligraphy. [Signed] Zhuchi (p. 161) [Seals]: Jingyi, Jianfei
10. Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797), 5 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1791; 1 seal:
In Chen Meigong's [Chen Jiru's] Nigulu it says: "Of Li Gonglin's calligraphy, Huang Tingjian said, 'He penetrated the secrets of calligraphy through the doorway of painting.'" As we look now at the small kai script of the Xiaojing, a spiritual brilliance radiates from the primitive brushstrokes, and we can perceive the pattern of the ancient li [clerical] script still preserved in it. As to the excellence of the brushwork of the painting, as Dong Qichang said, it directly follows Gu Kaizhi. Truly it is one of the rarest treasures of the age! I would not exchange this scroll for a thousand in gold! Xinhai , fifteenth day of the first month, after the snow cleared, again recorded by Zhuchi. (p. 161) [Seal]: Long
11. Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797), 3 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1789; 1 seal:
In the third month of the year jiyou , Dong Wenmin exchanged this scroll with Liu Taixue of Xin’an. I obtained it in the fifth month of the year jiyou , a difference of 180 years. I, too, am a native of Xin’an. A remarkable thing indeed! This is evidently a case of a mysterious destiny. Jiyou , autumn, eighth month, on a snowy day, recorded by Zhuchi. (p. 161) [Seal]: Jianfei
12. Bi Long畢瀧 (1730–1797), 6 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals with 1 illegible:
Wang Tingzhang of Shexian, also called Lingwen, was a wealthy merchant of Yangzhou, a man of considerable culture and elegance. Among his retainers was a certain Qiu Yugao who once wrote an account of a long handscroll by Li Longmian transcribing and illustrating the Classic of Filial Piety that was owned by Wang. He obtained it for a price of 1,200 gold, and then built a Hall of the Classic of Filial Piety in his garden using only precious cedarwood. He was one who truly guards and cherishes his precious possessions! I too knew from afar of the fame of the scroll, but I was never able to see it. In only a few years, however, Wang had passed away, and now the painting has unexpectedly come to me. One can only say that objects gather about those who love them. This painting, moreover, is a supernatural thing, and I will guard and preserve it with all my power…... Recorded again by Zhuchi. (pp. 160-61) [Seal]: Zhuchi, 1 illegible
13. Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797), 3 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1789; 2 seals:
Xiaojing tu, a genuine work by Li Longmian of Song. A rare treasure of the highest class. In the year wushen  of the Qianlong period Lu Xiaolian, Mengzhao of Wumen obtained it from the Wang family of Yangzhou. In the year jiyou , fifth intercalary month, I bought it from Mengzhao for a price of 500,000 cash. Recorded by the Master of Jingyi Studio, Bi Long. (p. 160) [Seals]: Bi Long zhi yin, Jianfei
16. Guan Tong 管同 (1780–1831), 4 columns in standard script, dated 1827; 2 seals:
Li Boshi's Xiaojing tu. From each chapter, he selected one or two words to be illustrated. Its dream-like images are astonishingly fine, far superior to the other two paintings [attributed to Li Gonglin], Immortals and Pig Hunt. As for the calligraphy, an earlier writer has said that it vigorously pursues the model of Chung You, and the comment is not an empty one. Yao Xibao [Yao Nai] once said that though he lived in Longmian, in his entire lifetime he had never seen Boshi's painting. Now this inequity has been corrected. In the space of a few years, three precious paintings by Li Boshi have been acquired. The Master should feel contented now. (p. 162)
18. Dai Xi 戴熙 (1801–1860), 8 columns in semi-cursive script, datable to 1857; 2 seals (originally inscribed on a rubbing of the Classic of Filial Piety?):
Longmian shanren's Xiaojing tu, together with the text of the classic written in the small kai script. Siweng [Dong Qichang] was completely bowled over by it. He has the calligraphy engraved in the first chapter of Xihongtang. Through that reproduction I was already familiar with its general appearance. As for the painting itself, I had no idea by whom it was owned and enjoyed. Recently however I met the Zhongcheng [Counselor of the Center] Xu Xunchen [Xu Naizhao], and our talk turned to this painting. He spoke with the greatest admiration of the lofty antiquity of the style of the painting and the freedom and purity of the calligraphy. He also told me that Liu Wenqing [Liu Yong], who lived early in this dynasty, had completely based his own style of calligraphy on it. I thirsted for even a glimpse of the scroll, but my wish was never fulfilled. Then, in the fifth intercalary month of dingsi  in the Xianfeng era, Master Wu Guanying of Jiangyin came to visit me, bringing with him a rubbing made from a stone engraving of the entire scroll made by Master Chen Jifang, and at long last I had the privilege of seeing this holy object. Stunned with awe and admiration, I realized that everything Xunweng had said of it was indeed true!...... (p. 164) [Seals]: Dai Xi, Chunshi
19. Qi Junzao 祁寯藻 (1793–1866), 10 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1859; 1 seal (originally inscribed on a rubbing of the Classic of Filial Piety?):
How can "emptiness" compare to imitating the mirror of reality! When the myriad Buddhist fates are swept away, the true Confucian scholar is revealed. The customs of the family are preserved in Moral Lessons at the Mountain Home [another painting by Li Gonglin]. But this is a pearl beneath the jaws of a dragon [i.e., a treasure almost impossible to obtain]!...... (p. 164) [Seal]: Zhaizhe
Extant authentic works of the Song and Yuan periods are extremely rare. I have been searching for them for many years, and have succeeded in finding only a few. In the spring of the year dingwei , Wu Zizhong [Wu Zhun] saw at the home of Mr. Wen in the capital Li Longmian's Xiaojing tu, the transcription and illustration of the Classical of Filial Piety, an authentic work. He sent me a letter praising the work, and as I had long been impressed by Master Wu's connoisseurship, I asked him to buy it and have it brought back to me. The scroll is well over ten feet long, on silk; each chapter of the text is accompanied by an illustration. The figures are antique and respectful, the brushwork pure and vigorous, embodying strength in pliancy—truly a work that reveals the artistic merit and profound thought of a scholar. In his calligraphy in the kai, or model, script he used very thick ink. The effect he achieves with the brush is pure and unsophisticated; the tip of the brush is withdrawn, its edge concealed. It follows the concepts of Zhong Taifu [Zhong You]. Unfortunately, both the text and the illustration of chapter 1 are lost, and the illustrations of the chapters on the emperor and the common people are lost as well. Although there are numerous other areas of loss and damage, none is excessive. As for the transmission of the painting, the forest of colophons by famous men suffices to prove that it has long been treasured and esteemed. When the boat on which the scroll was sent me by post was turning around at Wumen, a boatman accidently dropped it into the water. Thanks to the strength and firmness of the wrapping, however, the water did not penetrate through to the painting itself. Truly, holy things are protected by the gods! And yet they can still encounter grave danger! I was moved by this, and decided to entrust the scroll to Master Zhang Cuishan to make an engraving so that it might be transmitted through numberless transformations. The longevity of hard, white stone will enable it to pass through future ages without harm. The silk, however, having survived over 800 years, had turned very dark and it was not easy to trace the painting. Fortunately, Master Wu assisted in the work, and a fine copy was made. We obtained a version that could be engraved consisting of 12 chapters. Chapter 10 [a mistake for chapter 9] had already been reproduced in Xihongtang, and we did not repeat it. As for the rest, wherever the calligraphy or painting had been rubbed off or lost, we repaired it with material drawn from elsewhere in the scroll. With this, Longmian's spirit and the excellence of his art will be fresh and new forever; and his mind, which illumines the sage's classic and thereby assists the world in spreading his teaching, will still be able to clearly explain the meaning of filial piety to philosophers of the future. It is certainly not merely a model for the world of art and nothing more! Dingsi , a summer day, recorded by Chen Shijin. (p. 163) [Seals]: Jifang, Shiyuan
21. Li Hongzhang 李鴻章 (1823‒1901), 6 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1880; 1 seal:
When the ancient men made paintings, their primary purpose was moral instruction. Not a single thought or brushstroke was accidental. Theirs was no "art for art's sake," as in the modern world of art. This excellence of brush and ink in this painting can by no means be regarded as spurious. One can enjoy it from morning till night, seeking to discover wherein lies its meaning. Nor can it be said to be without some small assistance in the path of establishing one's life and serving one's parents. (p. 164) In the early autumn of the gengchen year (1880) Li Hongzhang noted in his office in Tianjin. [Seal]: Shaoquan
This scroll was in the collection of Master Shiyuan of my family [Chen Shijin]. His son, Shaohe, asked me to give it to Xinwu, who passed the Examination in the same year as I. Xinwu is a native of Pingliang, and therefore a townsman of Li Gonglin. He has a large collection and is a discerning connoisseur. Hong Qian’an [Hong Ying] said, “The art of the brush has deep spiritual connections. Spiritual objects do not leave their native land.” They are not empty words. Noted by Chen Xizhi from Jiangyin [modern Wuxi, Jiangsu Province] two days after the Qingming Festival [around April 5] in the wuyin year of the Guangxu reign era (1878). [Seal]: Ziban
23. Pan Yuren 潘欲仁 (19th c.), 2 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1879; 2 seals:
Pan Yuren from Yushan [in Changshu, Jiangsu Province] viewed this at the Guanlan Tang Studio in Nanjing in autumn, the eighth month, of the jimao year in the Guangxu reign era (1879). [Seals]: Yuren zhi yin, Zizhao
24. Chang Yu 張預 (19th c.), 1 column in standard script, dated 1880; 1 seal:
Xia ?bang from Jiangyin and Zhang Yu from Qiantang [in Zhejiang Province] viewed this together at the Bao Song Tang Studio on the sixteenth of the first month of the gengchen year in the sixth year of the Guangxu reign era (1880). [Seal]: Ziyu guomu
25. Yang Xian 楊峴 (1819‒1896), 1 column in semi-cursive script, dated 1880; 1 seal:
Yang Xian from Guian [modern Huzhou, Zhejiang Province] viewed this at his lodging by the Luo River on the seventh of the seventh month of the gengchen year (1880). [Seal]: Jianshan
26. Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (1907‒2003), 1 column in semi-cursive script, dated 1964; 2 seals:
In celebration of the birthday of Mr. Xinghai [Tang Bingyuan 唐炳源, P. Y. Tang, 1898‒1971] in the twelfth month of the jiachen year (1964) Wang Jiqian presented this gift with respect. [Seals]: Zhuli Guan, Wang shi Jiqian zhencang zhi yin
Bi Long 畢瀧 (1730–1797) Bi Long shending (twice) 畢瀧審定 Bi Long zhi yin 畢瀧之印 Bi Jianfei miji yin (twice) 畢澗飛祕笈印 Bi Long qingshang 畢瀧清賞 Zhuchi miwan (twice) 竹痴祕玩 Bi Long micang 畢瀧秘藏 Zhuchi Daoren 竹痴道人 Ceng deng Dahua Shan dian 曾登大華山顛
Wang Tingzhang 汪廷璋 (active 18th c.) Wang Lingwen shi micang 汪令聞氏祕藏
Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (C. C. Wang, 1906–2002) Wang Jiqian haiwai suo jian mingji 王季遷海外所見名跡
Wang Wenrui 王文瑞 (Qing dynasty) Changzhou Wang Shixin Yuexuan shi cang 長洲王時新月軒氏藏
Li Jingyu 李經畬 (1858–1935) Boxiong miji 伯雄秘笈
 All translations of the Classic of Filial Piety and the colophons, except the last five, come from Richard M. Barnhart, (essays by) Robert E. Harrist, Jr. and Hui-liang J. Chu., Li Kung-lin’s Classic of Filial Piety, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. Page numbers are specified at the end of translation of each section. Barnhart’s translation of the Classic of Filial Piety is mostly based on James Legge, The Hsiao King, in The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism, pt. 1, Oxford, 1879.
C. C. Wang Family , New York (until 1964; sold to P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family) 1990–96); P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family , Princeton, N.J. (until 1989; sold to Oscar L. Tang Family); Oscar L. Tang Family , New York (1989–2000; promised gift to MMA in 1991; partial gift to MMA in 1996, with the remaining portion given in increments through 2000)
Zurich. Museum Rietberg. "The Mandate of Heaven: Emperors and Artists in China," April 2, 1996–July 7, 1996.
Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Mandate of Heaven: Emperors and Artists in China," August 3, 1996–November 10, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23–August 16, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Artist as Collector: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the C.C.Wang Family Collection," September 2, 1999–January 9, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Scholars' Rocks: Gardens, Studios, and Paintings," February 1–August 20, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22–September 21, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting, Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," August 28, 2004–February 20, 2005.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings," March 1–August 10, 2008.
Shanghai Museum. "Masterpieces of Chinese Tang, Song and Yuan Paintings from America," November 3, 2012–January 3, 2013.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from The Met Collection (Rotation One)," October 31, 2015–October 11, 2016.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close," January 25, 2020–June 27, 2021.
Nakata Yūjirō 中田勇次郎, and Fu C. Y. Shen 傅申. Ō-Bei shūzō Chūgoku hōsho meiseki shū 歐米收藏中國法書名蹟集 (Masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy in American and European collections) vol. 1, Tokyo: Chūōkōron-sha, 1981–82, pls. 77–79.
Barnhart, Richard M. Along the Border of Heaven: Sung and Yüan Paintings from the C. C. Wang Family Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983, pp. 53–57, figs. 14–15.
Dong Qichang 董其昌. Xihong Tang fatie 戲鴻堂法帖 (Anthology of rubbings from the Xihong Tang Studio). Preface dated 1603. Reprinted. Beijing: Zhongguo shudian, 1989, vol. 1, n. p.
Fong, Wen C. Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, pp. 12, 48-59, 62-65, 134-37, 217, 283, pls. 8a–e, figs. 20–24, 124.
Barnhart, Richard M., Robert E. Harrist Jr., and Hui-liang Chu. Li Kung-lin's "Classic of Filial Piety.". New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993, pp. 90–153; 156–75, pls. 1–15, figs. 48a–d, 49a–z, 52a–c, 53.
Harrist, Robert E. Jr., and Virginia Bower. Power and Virtue: The Horse in Chinese Art. Exh. cat. New York: China Institute in America, 1997, p. 39, fig. 14.
Weitz, Ankeney. Zhou Mi's Record of Clouds and Mist Passing Before One's Eyes: An Annotated Tanslation. Leiden: Brill, 2002, pp. 95; 286–87, cat. no. 6.10, fig. 42.
Kleeman, Terry, and Tracy Barrett. The Ancient Chinese World. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 67.
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008, pp. 264–65, fig. 8.1.
Hearn, Maxwell K. How to Read Chinese Paintings. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008, pp. 38–47, cat. no. 7.
Silbergeld, Jerome, and Dora C. Y. Ching, eds. The Family Model in Chinese Art and Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, pp. 280–83, figs. 4–5.
Vanderstappen, Harrie A. The Landscape Painting of China: Musings of a Journeyman. Gainsville: University of Florida Press, 2014, p. 69, pl. 49.
He Muwen 何慕文 (Hearn, Maxwell K.). Ruhe du Zhongguo hua: Daduhui Yishu Bowuguan cang Zhongguo shuhua jingpin daolan 如何读中国画 : 大都会艺术博物馆藏中国书画精品导览 (How to read Chinese paintings) Translated by Shi Jing 石静. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2015, pp. 38–47, cat. no. 7.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.