1672 | LI RUINIAN Painted in 1977 LOTUS


Author: LI RUINIAN 李瑞年

Size: 75×80cm

Signed and dated: Painted in 1977

Estimate: No Reserve

Final Price: RMB 950,000

2010 Artist Li Ruinian / P76-77 / People’s Fine Art Publishing House
signed in dated 1977
Acquired directly from the artist’s family

Li Ruinian is a member of the first generation of Chinese oil painters and art educators of the 20th century. His artistic style belongs to realism, defined by Xu Beihong as a system that combines traditional Chinese with Western painting, opening a new chapter of great significance in the history of modern Chinese painting. Li Ruinian initially studied at the Beiping University Art College and later perfected his skills at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels and l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During his studies in Europe, he was influenced by 19th-century French realists and impressionists and tried to fuse the techniques of various painting genres — including the rigorousness of realism, the impressionist focus on light and color change, and the poetic beauty of Chinese literati painting — thus forming a unique oil painting style. Xu Beihong believed Li’s works to be “pristine, profound, and precise, a true ode to naturalism” and praised his work as “the best landscape oil paintings in China.” Li’s artistic style was quite influential in the 1940s, but later, due to political factors, he gradually moved away from the mainstream art world. In all actuality, however, both as an artist and as an educator, he opened up a new era to some extent. Artists such as Jin Shangyi, Hou Yimin, and Qian Shaowu were once his students and were deeply influenced by his works.
In 1977, the artist spent a lot of time working on Year. He was already in his 60s, yet he still maintained his precision while portraying real objects, while at the same time integrating more traditional Chinese literati modes of expression into his work. In addition, due to changes in the social environment, his works no longer had the sense of loneliness and oppression visible in his paintings from the 1940s such as Tempest, but instead featured bright and elegant colors. Year is a portrayal of a lush lotus pond. The audience can enjoy an open view thanks to Li’s reasonable use of spatial perspective. The shape, size, and posture of each lotus leaf is different, and the density of the lotus leaves also differs in various parts of the picture. The lotus flower growing above the leaves form a contrast between warm and cold colors. The differences in leaf density also constitute a contrast. The contours of the leaves and flowers are clear, showing the exquisite and elegant features of gongbi painting. In this work, Li did not pursue light and color changes like Monet did, but he rather favored gray-green tones and natural light. Still, large areas of green do not appear monotonous due to the addition of subtle shades. This kind of painting style is different when compared to that of Li’s peers such as Wei Tianlin and Wu Dayu.