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Li T'ang (Li Ti) was born in Ho-nan province in the town of Ho-yang.
He lived in the latter part of the eleventh century and into the first half of the twelfth, flourishing as a painter principally between the years 1100 and 1130.
Li T'ang spent most of his life in the capital at K'ai-feng, where he was an important member of the Painting Academy and a friend of Emperor Hui Tsung. The Emperor was a realist who liked painting "to tell its own story," demanded careful observation of nature, and was himself an artist. He also had a catalogue made of all the 6,192 pictures in his collection, and this catalogue came to be used as an encyclopedia of Far Eastern art. Li T'ang painted traditional Sung landscapes, but is best known for his droll, rustic genre scenes, and for his precise paintings of water buffaloes, executed in fine line and showing both movement and character. When the Mongols invaded northern China in 1122, and the Emperor was taken prisoner, Li T'ang, then over seventy-five years old, moved south to Hang-chou to teach in the New Academy there. He brought with him the disciplined Sung style of brushwork.