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Famous People

Shutong Li: Trailblazer in Chinese Arts Studies

Shutong Li (1880-1942), famous artist, musician, and dramatist.

In 1915, Shutong Li accepted an invitation by Qian Jiang, the then President of Nanjing Higher Normal School, to serve as Dean of the Fine Arts Department and teach painting and music courses.In 1918, Shutong Li converted to Buddhism, and adopted the Buddhist name of “Master Hong Yi”. Later, he became the most outstanding Buddhist master in modern Chinese history. During his appointment, he founded a Buddhist community named the "Ning Society", and organized Buddhist lectures and painting exhibitions in Nanjing’s Jiming Temple. He has created a large number of paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, and musical works. He also composed a musical accompaniment to Qian Jiang’s lyrics for the “Nanjing Higher Normal School Anthem". The music is known for its archaic style and powerful simplicity.

During his art teaching career, Shutong Li personally taught courses on western art, and cultivated a new generation of Chinese artistic talent. He was the first to offer music theory lessons, choral lessons, male body painting lessons, and Western art history lessons in China. He was the first to teach piano (organ) with etudes in China and he was the first to edit art magazines in China. He is definitely worthy of the title “Communicator and Pioneer of Western Arts in China”.

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