Red and White Cotton Roses

Li Di1197

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo, Japan

Li Di (active c. 1163-1197) was a court painter in the Imperial Painting Academy of the Chinese Southern Song dynasty (c. 1127-1279). Evidence that Li Di was active as a painter during the latter half of the twelfth century is provided by the dates he wrote on some of his works and also from the career of his son, Li Demao (active late twelfth-early thirteenth centuries), who, not surprisingly, also became a painter in the Imperial Painting Academy. Li Di specialized in painting flowers, birds, and animals, and these paintings of cotton roses are the masterpiece among his extant works. From the inscriptions on the paintings we learn that they were executed in what corresponds to the third year of the Qingyuan reign in 1197.

These cotton roses are thought to be "drunk cotton roses" (J. suifuyô) that first bloom white and then gradually turn crimson. Although the flowers are painted realistically, the delicate lines and the subtle gradation of color endow them with a sense of poetry. The surrounding blank space also conveys feelings of naturalness and calm.

These two hanging scrolls were thought originally to have been independent album leaves that were remounted as a pair of scroll paintings (J. tsuifuku) following the growth in appreciation of Chinese paintings born of Japanese tea-ceremony aesthetics.


  • Title: Red and White Cotton Roses
  • Creator: Li Di
  • Date Created: 1197
  • Physical Dimensions: w25.5 x h25.2 cm (Each)
  • Object Title: 紅白芙蓉図
  • Object Notes(Japanese): 李迪は中国・南宋の宮廷に仕えた画家(画院画家)で、この時代を代表する1人。現存作品の年記や、やはり画院画家となった子の李徳茂の経歴などから、その活躍時期は南宋時代前半の12世紀後半と思われる。 李迪は花や鳥や動物を描くことを得意としたが、この芙蓉図は現存する李迪の最高傑作である。各図に押された「慶元丁巳歳李迪画」の落款から、南宋の慶元3年(1197)の作とわかる。 芙蓉は、初め白い花をつけ、しだいに紅色を帯びていく酔芙蓉とみられ、きわめて写実的であるが、繊細な筆と微妙な階調の色彩で描かれているため情趣にあふれ、余白を生かした空間も自然で静謐である。 2幅の図は、本来はそれぞれ独立した冊仕立の作品であったと思われるが、日本の茶の湯の美意識から生まれた唐絵鑑賞に合わせて、対幅に改装された。
  • Object Date: 南宋時代・慶元3年(1197)
  • Medium(Japanese): 絹本着色
  • Artist Name: 李迪筆
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: http://www.emuseum.jp/detail/100216
  • Medium: Color on silk

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