Li Tang, a native of Ho-yang, is also said to have lived from about 1070 to after 1150. He served in the Hanlin Academy of Painting under Emperor Hui-tsung (r. 1101-1125) of the Northern Sung. Sometime between 1127 and 1130, after the fall of the Northern Sung in 1126 to northern invaders, Li escaped to the south, where the government became re-established as the Southern Sung (1127-1279) at Hangchow. There he re-entered the Painting Academy, which was set up during the period from 1131 and 1162. He went on to receive the title of Gentleman of Complete Loyalty and the prestigious Gold Belt. Li Tang's signature appears on a slender peak to the left and reads, "Painted by Li Tang of Ho-yang in spring of the chia-chen year 1124 of the Hsuan-ho Reign of the Great Sung." By this time, Li was already advanced in age, but his brushwork is still quite strong and inspired. With the main peak located in the center, clouds wrap around high and low peaks on either side. The cliffs and peaks are imposing and rugged, and their texturing was done using brush strokes similar to wood chopped by an axe (and hence became known as "axe-cut" strokes). Li Tang employed a high distance compositional formula to make the atmosphere appear solemn. However, he also expanded the composition in front to include foreground woods and streams, which make the scene more intimate and closer to the viewer, and hence more comprehensible as a natural landscape. This trend towards closer visions continue in Sung painting, making this work an important forerunner of the intimate style of Southern Sung landscape painting.
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Paper barrel for painting and calligraphy
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