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13) Yen Li-pen (d. 673). Emperor Hsüan of the Ch'en Dynasty. Detail of a long handscroll of thirteen emperors from Han to Sui. Ink and color on silk. Tang dynasty, about 650 AD. Yen Li-pen was among the foremost "Court painters" of his day, artists commissioned to work exclusively for the royal Tang dynasty Court. The subject matter of such painting was almost always didactic or propagandistic. Here the regal portraits of thirteen previous (show is Emperor Hsüan of the Ch'en dynasty) emperors are meant to provide examples to the younger members of the royal Court how the majesty of their forebears. On the long scroll, each emperor group is a self-contained composition, and each is set on he silk without background of any kind. This technique, usual in Tang portrait painting, directs focus to the subject without the distraction of background. The use of shading to suggest folds in the garments is a remnant of Central Asian influence (see the right arm of the emperor).

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