Li Cheng

Series: The Royal Collection of Imperial China

Detail of the handscroll

Artist: Li Cheng
Period: Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127)
Medium: Handscroll
Dimensions: 202 × 22 cm
Price: $299.95
ISBN: 978-1-4878-0156-4
(Collected by the Liaoning Provincial Museum)


Ink and light color on silk; length 27cm, width 113 cm

This painting depicts the sights and sounds of flocks of crows gathering at the border of a wall and in a forest after a winter snow. The tree trunks are painted with extremely light ink, and the branches are thin and expansive, with luxuriant needles on the treetops. The fine branches have the appearance of crab claws. It is a vast, bleak scene.


Li Cheng (919–967) was a painter of the Five Dynasties and early Song period. Known by the alias Xian Xi, he came from Chang’an (present day Xi’an, Shaanxi). His ancestral lineage was of the Tang Dynasty imperial family. During the Five Dynasties period, his grandfather fled to Yingqiu in Shandong Province to avoid political clashes, and thereafter became known as Li Yingqiu. Li Cheng excelled at painting landscapes, having learned from Jing Hao and Guan Tong, then later developing his own style. Mi Fu describes his “light ink like misty dreams and stones like moving clouds,” which has since become the trademark of his work.