The thirteen emperors

歷代帝王圖 卷 (傳 閻立本)

Tang dynasty
second half of the 7th century A.D.
Attributed to Yan Liben (Chinese, about 600–673)


51.3 x 531 cm (20 3/16 x 209 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ink and color on silk

Not On View






Mid-11th century, Yang Bao. Wu Ch'ien (b. about 1090 - d. about 1135); about 1188, sold by a descendant of Wu Ch'ien to Zhou Bichêng (b. 1124 - d. 1205). Chung-shu-shêng, Grand Council of the Song Dynasty; 1274, upon the fall of the Song Dynasty, confiscated by the Yüan army and taken to Dadu (present-day Beijing). 17th century, Li chi-an. 17th/18th century, Ts'ai Shih-yüan. 18th century, acquired by an official. By 1846 until at least 1855, Sun Shou-hsing. 1860, acquired by Lin Shou T'u; 1917, still in the Lin collection [see note 2]. 1925, acquired by Liang Hung-chih, Peking (Beijing); 1931, sold by Liang Hung-chih to Yamanaka and Co., New York; 1931, sold by Yamanaka to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 3, 1931)

[1] Unless otherwise noted, the provenance given here is based on information published by Kojiro Tomita, "Portraits of the Emperors: A Chinese Scroll-Painting, Attributed to Yen Li-pen (Died A. D. 673)," MFA Bulletin, 30, no. 177 (February, 1932): 6 and Wu Tung, Tales from the Land of Dragons: 1,000 Years of Chinese Painting (Boston: MFA, 1997), cat. no. 3, pp. 129-130. [2] Arthur Waley, "A Painting by Yen Li-Pen," Burlington Magazine 35, no. 200 (November, 1919): 198-199.

Credit Line

Denman Waldo Ross Collection