Luxuriant Forest Among Distant Peaks

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: 147 × 22 cm
Price: $199.95
ISBN: 978-1-4878-0157-1
(Collected by the Liaoning Provincial Museum)


Ink and light color on silk; length 45 cm, width 142 cm

In the foreground, light boats are moored, with pedestrians and horse carts moving between them. In the distance a peak rises, the shadow of a looming tower implying that a city lies not far away. Springs and waterfalls flow between the peaks, embellishing the rolling mountains and turning them green and lush. The overall composition suggests both noise and silence, with contrasting hardness and softness. It is a harmonious, vivid image.


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.