Emperor Lizong (Zhao Yun; 1205-1264) was the tenth-generation grandson of the dynastic founder, Emperor Taizu, and on the throne for a total of forty years (1225-1264). During that period, he promoted the Neo-Confucian idealist philosophy of the Cheng brothers and later Zhu Xi, making him the most important ruler in the canonization of Neo-Confucianism in the Southern Song. After his death, he was given the temple name Lizong (“Idealist Ancestor”), which would be quite fitting.
In this portrait, Emperor Lizong appears with a full face, his skin slightly dark. He stares out with visual acuity, his eyes slanted at an obvious angle. In fact, the faces of figures in both Ma Lin’s “Portrait of Fuxi and “Quietly Listening to Soughing Pines” are similar to the countenance of the emperor here. Thus, there is some scholarly opinion that the painter intentionally deified the emperor, rationalizing his succession to the lineage of Confucian orthodoxy.(20101015)