Vocabulary of Chinese Traditional Art:
Name of a kind of rice paper made in China. It was first produced in Xuanzhou (now the Jing County of East China's, Anhui Province), hence the name of Xuan paper. The bark of Pteroceltis tatarinowii and straw are the main raw materials for producing Xuan paper. After maceration, the fibers are treated with lime, exposed to sunlight, bleached, and washed with starch. Prized xuan papers are cast by hand. They are fine, soft, resistant to insect damage, and their pure white color lasts long to retard absorption of the ink, they may be treated with alum. Where not otherwise indicated, the Chinese papers used for prints and paintings in the exhibition are on a variety of xuan paper.
Tablets or slips made from bamboo (or wood) for writing in ancient China. It’s called slip if it’s made from bamboo, and called tablet if it’s made from wood. Slit used to be the general name, but now it’s often called bamboo slip. The writing tools of bamboo slip were Chinese brush and ink, and only one line of text can be handwritten on each slip. An article often included many slips. Upon the finish, the slips were bound by strings and rolled up for storage. These rolls were the earliest form of Chinese books. Wooden tablet was often used for short essays. Bamboo slip was invented in Western Zhou, and was widely accepted during Spring and Autumn Period and Warring Period. Around 4th century, with the popularization of paper, the status of bamboo slips was eventually replaced.
Du Fu (712~770)
Du Fu was a prominent Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. His courtesy name was Zi Mei, and he called himself “Shao Ling countryside aged”, “Du Shao Ling”, “Du Gong Bu”, etc. Du Fu’s own greatest ambition was to help his country by becoming a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. He only served in some low-level position, such as the military adviser in a regional governor's headquarters and concurrently assistant secretary in the Board of Works (Gong Bu). His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and the last 15 years of his life were a time of almost constant unrest. Initially little known, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese culture. Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems written by Du Fu have been handed down over the ages, most of which expressed a sincere and broad concern for humanity. He also possesses a remarkable power of description, with which he vividly presents human affairs and natural scenery. Thus the afterworld gave him the name of Poet-Historian and the Poet-Sage.
Emperor Huizong of Song (1082~1135)
Emperor of Northern Song Dynasty. Painter. Calligrapher. The eleventh son of the Emperor Shenzong of Song. The brother of the Emperor Zhezong of Song. After the death of Zhezong, Huizong’s mother made him the eighth emperor of Song Dynasty (r. 1100~1125). During his reign, Huizong devoted himself into art more than into governing the empire. He was an accomplished painter, calligrapher and art supporter. When Jin Dynasty declared war on Song in 1126, Huizong lost it and had to escape. In 1127, Huizong, his son Emperor Qinzong, as well as the entire imperial court and harem were captured by the Jin in the Jingkang Incident. Nine years later he died in captivity at the age of 54. His tomb is 35 miles away from Shaoxing county in Zhejiang province.
Cui Bai (11th century c.)
Chinese painter in the Northern Song dynasty. Cui Bai was active during the reign of the Emperor Shenzong of Song. Appreciated by Shenzong, he became a Yixue (艺学, a title in the Imperial Art Academy, lower than painter-in-attendance) and later panter-in-attendance in the Imperial Art Academy. Cui Bai was good at flower-and-bird painting, as well as Buddhism mural painting. He broke the court tradition created by Huang Quan and his son in the early period of Song dynasty, who had founded the standard to paint flower and bird in a luxuary way, and originated a new style in the Imperial Art Academy. His works include “Shuangxi Tu” (《双喜图》, Double Happiness), “Hanque Tu” (《寒雀图》, Sparrow in Cold Days), and “Zhu’ou Tu”(《竹鸥图》, Bamboo and Gull), etc.
Fan Kuan (early 11th century c.)
Fan Kuan is known to be one of the leading figures in the Northern Song Landscape tradition and one of the most appreciated landscape artists in traditional China. According to Chinese art history, he was born at the end of Five Dynasties, and still alive during Tianren years of the reign of Emperor Renzong of Song (1023~1031). His courtesy name is Zhongli, but because of his nature of lenience and magnanimous, people of his time called him “Kuan”, which means wide. Then he named himself “Kuan” too. In the record of Xuanhe Hua Pu (《宣和画谱》, “Xuanhe Painting List, a catalogue made of Emperor Huizong’s collection, compiled by court connoisseurs during his reign in Song dynasty), Fan Kuan’s characteristics was also mentioned. The List said Fan “had a style of ancient times; behaved wild; loved alcohol; and never restrained by convention or propriety”. Fan Kuan created imaginary landscapes that were different and unique while preserving the internal order and ideal balance of nature.
Ma Yuan (1140~1225)
One of Four Masters in Southern Song Dynasty, courtesy name Yaofu, and pseudonym Qinshan, Ma Yuan was born in Hezhong (today’s Yongji county in Shanxi province), and moved to Qiantang (today’s Hangzhou in Zhejiang province). He represented the fourth generation in a tradition of painters spanning five generations, beginning with his great-grandfather, Ma Fen, and ending with his son, Ma Lin, all of whom served the Sung emperors as court painters-in-attendance. Although the family tradition doubtless had strong influence on Ma Yuan's development as a painter, he was also indebted to the great northern landscape and figure master Li Tang. Ma Yuan's art at its best is a masterpiece of understatement and evocative suggestion. His typical compositions, featuring the extensive use of swirling mist and empty spaces, with only a few sharply etched forms dramatically silhouetted against the whiteness, lent him the sobriquet "One-corner Ma."
Li Song (1166~1243)
A native of Qiantang, was a prominent painter of the Southern Song dynasty. Li Song was a talented carpenter before the court painter Li Xun adopted him. He served as a Painter-in-Attendance during the reign of Emperor Gaozong, Ningzong and Lizong of Song. Li was good at Daoist and Buddhist figure, as his foster father Li Xun, he was especially gifted in architecture paintings. The Palace Museum in Beijing collected his painting Puppet Play of a Skeleton. In this painting the expression of figures were well presented. He used the outlining method of nail head and mouse tail to paint the drapes of clothes, and straight lines were often used, which was fine but powerful. And his Flower Basket shows different levels of all the flowers, just like real ones.
Zhu Da (1626~1705)
Chinese painter and poet. A descendant of the imperial Zhu family of the Ming dynasty and a leading artist of the early Qing period, Zhu Da grew up in Nanchang in Jiangxi province. His connections with the previous dynasty led him to become a monk after the Manchu conquest of China in 1644. Zhu Da had many pseudonyms, but his favorite should be Bada Shanren, which means mountain man of eight masters. Zhu Da adopted and developed the technique of Chen Chun and Xu Wei to paint flowers, birds and landscapes in a style of freehand brushwork, and he went even further - his paintings were in a distinctive and highly dramatic calligraphic style. In a way of symbolization and metaphor, he exaggerated flowers and birds, fishes and insects in his paintings, even gave them a human expression of white eyes (supercilious look). This showed the painter’s own feelings. His bitter experiences of social turmoil and his hatred for the Qing rulers helped to shape his distinctive style. Zhu Da's style exerted a great influence on later artists, such as the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou.
Shi Tao (1642~1707)
Original name Zhu Ruoji. Chinese painter and theoretician who was, with Zhu Da, one of the most famous Four Monks in the early Qing dynasty. Shi Tao’s paintings were famous and popular when he was alive. He traveled a lot and learned from the nature itself. Before he began painting a sketch of sceneries, he had seen thousands of mountains (this is one of his famous opinions). His work has a freshness inspired not by masters of the past but by an unfettered imagination, with brush techniques that were free and unconventional, and with an ingenious composition. Shitao's independent spirit is also found within his theoretical writings, such as the Kugua Heshang Yulu (《苦瓜和尚语录》, “Comments on Painting by Monk of Bitter Melon”).
Gu Hongzhong (910~980, or 937~975)
Gu Hongzhong was a painter during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. He was from southern China, and served as painter-in-attendance in southern Tang during the reign of Li Jing and Li Yu. He excelled at figure painting. “Han Xizai Ye Yan Tu” (《韩熙载夜宴图》, Han Xizai Gives A Night Banquet) was his most famous painting. It’s a wide known work of high classical Chinese art. And it’s also the only work we can see today by Gu Hongzhong.
Lou Rui (6th century c.)
Lou Rui, a Xianbei native, was a relative of Emperor Shizu of Northern Qi, whose wife’s brother Lou Zhuang was Lou Rui’s father. Lou Rui was buried in 570 at Guo village in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. Since its discovery and excavation from 1980 to 1982, the tomb, with its underground structure decorated with mural paintings, has constituted a corpus of the most reliable data for an accurate assessment of the art, music, costume, court life and rites in the Northern Qi dynasty.
Zhao Mengfu (1254~1322)
A native of Huzhou, ZheJiang province. His courtesy name was Zi Ang and his pseudonyms was Taoist Xuesong (Pine Snow Taoist). Zhao Mengfu was a descendent of Song imperial family, but he also served the Yuan dynasty as one of the highest Han officials (regular official, not a court painter). He was a famous calligraphy and adept in many styles of calligraphy, such as seal character, official script, running script and the cursive hand, and he also created his own style, Zhaoti. He excelled at painting too, especially in ink bamboo, flowers and birds. His wife, Guan Daosheng was also talented in painting and calligraphy. The Xuesong Zhai Ji (《松雪斋集》, “Collected Essays from Pine Snow Studio”) was written by Zhao.
The term first appeared in Britain during the 1950s and referred to the interest of a number of artists in the images of mass media, advertising, comics and consumer products. The 1950s were a period of optimism in Britain following the end of war-time rationing, and a consumer boom took place. Influenced by the art seen in Eduardo Paolozzi's 1953 exhibition Parallel between Art and Life at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, and by American artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, British artists such as Richard Hamilton and the Independent Group aimed at broadening taste into more popular, less academic art. Hamilton helped organize the “Man, Machine, and Motion” exhibition in 1955, and “This is Tomorrow” with its landmark image Just What is it that makes today's home so different, so appealing? (1956). Pop Art therefore coincided with the youth and pop music phenomenon of the 1950s and '60s, and became very much a part of the image of fashionable, 'swinging' London. Peter Blake, for example, designed album covers for Elvis Presley and the Beatles and placed film stars such as Brigitte Bardot in his pictures in the same way that Warhol was immortalizing Marilyn Monroe in the USA. Pop art came in a number of waves, but all its adherents - Joe Trilson, Richard Smith, Peter Phillips, David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj - shared some interest in the urban, consumer, modern experience.
Zhang Xuan (8th c.)
A native of Jingzhao (today’s Xi’an in Shanxi province) in Tang dynasty. In 723 AD during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, he became a court painter with Yang Sheng and Yang Ning. Zhang Xuan was famous for his figure paintings, especially his paintings of noble lady, noble child, baby, and horse. He and Zhou Fang were the most outstanding figure painters in Tang dynasty.
Xie He (479~502)
Painter, art historian in Southern Qi and Liang of Southern dynasties. He excelled at genre painting and figure painting. His most famous work was a book, the Gu Hua Pin Lu (《古画品录》, Classified Record of Ancient Painters), which is also the oldest painting treatise in Chinese history. In this book Xie made comments on the important painters during 3rd to 4th century. Xie He is best known for his Six Cannons of painting which became a central theory in the history of Chinese painting. In this theory Xie He deals with all the major aspects of the art of painting according to importance.
The Six Cannons were introduced by Xie He in his Gu Hua Pin Lu (《古画品录》, Classified Record of Ancient Painters). They may be paraphrased as: first vivid spiritual consonance; second structural use of the brush; third proper representation and fidelity to object; fourth specific coloring of different objects; fifth proper planning of composition; and sixth transmission of the past and copying.
Theory of Relativity
The theory of relativity refers specifically to two theories: Albert Einstein's special relativity and general relativity. Special relativity is a theory of the structure of spacetime. General relativity is a theory of gravitation. Relativity and quantum physics touch the very basis of physical reality, altering our commonsense notions of space and time, cause and effect. Classical Physics is convenient in studying bodies of ordinary dimensions but not in other cases. For bodies of astronomical dimensions, the use of Relativity is required as well as that of Quantum Mechanics is required for bodies of atomic dimensions. The theory of relativity changed the “comment sense” toward space and time by its new contents of “relativity of simultaneity”, “four-dimensional space-time”, and “curve space”, etc.
The modern world of physics is notably founded on two tested and demonstrably sound theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is a fundamental branch of physics with wide applications in both experimental and theoretical physics. The effects of quantum mechanics are typically not observable on macroscopic scales, but become evident at the atomic and subatomic level. Quantum theory generalizes all classical theories, including mechanics and electromagnetism, and provides accurate descriptions for many previously unexplained phenomena such as black body radiation and stable electron orbits. It is the underlying mathematical framework of many fields of physics and chemistry, including condensed matter physics, solid-state physics, atomic physics, molecular physics, computational chemistry, quantum chemistry, particle physics, and nuclear physics.
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a celebrated German physicist and Nobel laureate, one of the founders of quantum mechanics, and acknowledged to be one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century. He was born in Würzburg, Germany and died in Munich. Heisenberg was the head of German nuclear energy project, though the nature of this project, and his work in this capacity, has been heavily debated. He is most well-known for discovering one of the central principles of modern physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Ren Bonian (1840~1896)
Ren Bonian (Ren Yi) was an outstanding painting in modern China. Born in Zhejiang and lived in Shanghai, he was active in the Haishang Painting School (海上画派) which fused popular and traditional styles. He is also sometimes referred to as one of and the best of the "Four Rens"(four modern painters in Shanghai who shared a same family name Ren).
Wu Changshuo (1844~1927)
Wu Changshuo was born in Anji, Zhejiang Province, and died in Shanghai. He settled in Suzhou in his twenties, where he founded the Xiling Seal Engravers Society, an artists' association with a focus on the craft of seal carving. As a leading figure in the Haishang Painting School during the early 20th century, he was largely responsible for rejuvenating the genre of bird-and-flower painting by introducing an expressive, individualistic style more generally associated with literati painting. He began his artistic career with the traditional study of literature and ancient inscriptions before moving to calligraphy. He wrote Fou Lu Ji (《缶庐集》, “Works from My Cottage Fou Lu”) and Fou Lu Yin Cun (《缶庐印存》, “Seals Colleted in My Cottage Fou Lu”) , etc. His famous paintings include “Tianzhu Huahui” (天竹花卉, Geranium Flower), “Zi Teng Tu” (紫藤图, Purple Bine), “Mo He Tu”( 墨荷图, Water Lily of Ink), and “Xin Hua Tu” (杏花图, Apricot Blossom), etc.
Huang Binhong (1865~1955)
Modern art historian and literati painter. He used to edit literary and art journals and taught at fine arts colleges in Shanghai for nearly 30 years. Huang experimented with traditional techniques for the use of ink, including shading and layering. He achieved an effect of “dark, dense, thick, and heavy” in his landscapes. Huang was the author of Huangshan Huajia Yuanliu Kao (《黄山画家源流考》, “Research the Headstream of Paintings in Yellow Mountain”), Hong Lu Hua Tan (《虹庐画谈》, “Essays of Paintings from My Cottage of Hong”), Gu Hua Wei (《古画微》, “About Ancient Paintings”), Jinshi Shuhua Bian (《金石书画编》, “Knowledge of Painting, Inscription Painting and Calligraphy”), and Hua Fa Yao Zhi (《画法要旨》, “Principles and Methods of Paintings”), etc.
Liu Haisu (1896~1994)
Painter and art educator Li Haisu was born in Wujin, Jiangsu province. He founded Shanghai Art Academy in 1912, which is the first modern art academy, the first coeducation school and the first art school allowed nude models in China. He traveled to Japan and Europe many times to study western art. His works can be found in a number of albums, including Huangshan (《黄山》, “Yellow Mountain”), Haisu Guo Hua (《海粟国画》, “Chinese Paintings by Haisu”), Haisu Laoren Shuhua Ji (《海粟老人书画集》, “Old Man Haisu’s Calligraphy and Painting”). His theoretical writings include Biography of Millet, and The Six Cannons in Chinese Painting, etc.
Shi Lu (1919~1982)
Originally known as Feng Ya-heng, Shi created his artistic pseudonym by combining those of two heroes of cultural iconoclasm, the seventeenth century individualist painter Shitao and the twentieth century writer Lu Xun. For the same reason, he changed his name to Shi Lu (representing Shi Tao and Lu Xun). Adept in Chinese painting and plate drawing, he was the representative of the Chang’an School of Painting.
Zhu Qizhan (1892~1996)
Born in Taicang in Jiangsu province, Zhu Qizhan started to copy ancient Chinese painting at the age of eight. When he at middle age he traveled to Japan twice where he studied Western-style oil, but after 1950s, he turned his interest to Chinese paintings. He excelled at landscape, flower, especially orchid, bamboo and stone.
Lin Fengmian (1900~1991)
Lin Fengmian is a famous modern painter and art educator who successfully combined Chinese and Western painting skills. He was born in Meixian County, Guangdong Province. At the age of 19, he went to France to learn oil painting, doing part-time work to support his study. In 1925 he came back to China to work as principal of the Beiping State Vocational Art School. In the late 1920s, invited by Cai Yuanpei, he became principal of the Hangzhou Vocational Art School (now the China Academy of Art). In 1978, he settled in Hong Kong. His solo exhibition was successfully held in Paris in 1979. Lin was good at the painting of noble ladies, characters of Beijing opera, scenery of fishing villages, female body, still life and landscapes.
Pan Tianshou (1897~1971)
Chinese painter, fine arts educationist, theorist of fine arts, calligraphist and seal cutting artist. From 1923, Pan started to teach in Shanghai Art School, New China Art School, Xihu Art School. The next year he went to Japan with Lin Fengmian to investigate Japanese art education. In 1944 he became the principal of the National Arts Vocational School. After the foundation of People’s Republic of China, Pan took the positions of president of Zhejiang Fine Arts Academy and vice president of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, etc. Books written by Pan Tianshou include The History of Chinese Painting, Tingtiange Huatan Suibi (《听天阁画谈随笔》, “Essays of Painting from Tingtian Attic, Tingtiange was the name of his studio), etc.
Li Keran (1907~1989)
Li Keran was born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. He was a famous painter and art educator in modern China. He developed a personal style of landscape painting that was based upon the western technique of light and shade. His famous paintings include “Apricot Blossom with Spring Rain in South China” (杏花春雨江南), “Morning Fog in Mountain Town” (山城朝雾), “Watching Mountains” (看山图), etc.
Fu Baoshi (1904~1964)
Chinese painter. Having studied in Japan, he travelled all over China to paint landscape, forming his own style based on traditional artistry. He also wrote Research on the History of Chinese Ancient Landscape Paintings, Techniques of Chinese Landscape Painting and Figure Painting, and Theories of Chinese Painting, etc.
Li Kuchan (1898~1983)
Li Kuchan’s given name was Ying, and his courtesy name was Kuchan (which means bitter Zen). He combined western techniques and spirituality in sculpture and painting into his Chinese painting teaching, and he himself was excelled at great freehand style of flower-and-bird painting. His representative works include “Orchid and Bamboo” (兰竹), “Eagle's Eyes Guarding China” (群鹰图), “Perching”, “Fully Blossoming Water Lily” (盛荷), etc.
Huang Zhou (1925~1997)
Artist, collector of traditional Chinese paintings, and a social activist. Entrusted by the Ministry of Culture, Huang founded the Research Institute of Traditional Chinese Painting and became its deputy director. He was also successively in the positions of director of Chinese Artists Association, member of the standing committee of CPPCC, and curator of Yanhuang Art Gallery.
Cheng Shifa (1921~2006)
Born in Songjiang, Shanghai, Cheng was good at comic works, illustration drawing, new-year picture, landscapes painting, flower-and-bird painting, and figure painting.
Karl Marx was the founder of Marxism, the organizer and leader of the First International, and the Great Teacher of the proletariat and the working people in the world.
Romain Rolland (1866～1944)
French writer. Romain Rolland's most famous work is Jean Christophe, a partly autobiographical novel, which also won him the 1915 Nobel Prize.
The Sword of Damocles
In Greek mythology, Damocles was courtier at the court of Dionysius I. He so persistently praised the power and happiness of Dionysius that the tyrant, in order to show the precariousness of rank and power, gave a banquet and had a sword suspended above the head of Damocles by a single hair. Hence the expression “the sword of Damocles” to mean an ever-present peril.
Zhong Yong (or Doctrine of the Mean)
The essence of Zhong Yong rooted in the Doctrine of the Mean in Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean was one of the Four Books, and it also refers to a way of living. Not like most people understand today, Zhong Yong does not equal to indifference or mediocrity. It’s about cultivation of human nature, including the way of learning, “To this attainment there are requisite the extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it. Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes”; and the duties of universal obligation are five, “the duties are those between sovereign and minister, between father and son, between husband and wife, between elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the intercourse of friends”; and the virtues wherewith they are practiced are three, “Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy”(the quotations follow James Legge’s translation in 1893). The highest goal of cultivation of Zhong Yong is the most entire sincerity.
Chang'e is the subject of several legends in Chinese mythology. She was Hou Yi’s wife. Chang’e stole and ate Hou Yi’s elixir, then flew to moon. She had to live on Moon forever.
A goddess in Chinese mythology. In some legends, Nv Wa created human beings from mud. In some other legends Nv Wa married to Fu Xi, her brother, and gave birth to human beings. Another legend tells how she patched up the sky. One day, there was a hole in the sky and it caused a flood. Nv Wa melted together various kinds of colored stones and with the molten mixture she patched up the sky. Human beings were protected. There are many legends about Nv Wa, which are well known until today.
Located in the eastern suburbs of Chansha, Hunan Province, the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs were uncovered in 1972 and excavated from 1972 to 1974. Mawangdui is the tombs of a man named Li Cang and his wife and son, who lived in the State of Changsha, Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD). The three tombs contained the remains of the Marquis Dai (tomb no.2), his wife (tomb no.1) and his son (tomb no.3), and their most prized possessions. The articles excavated from the tombs have been highly important in researching this very wealthy and sophisticated Western Han culture.
Gu Kaizhi (346~407)
Gu Kaizhi was a celebrated painter and art theorist in Eastern Jin dynasty. According to historical records he was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu province and first painted at Nanjing in 364. In 366 he became an officer (Da Sima Canjun). Later he was promoted to royal officer (Sanji Changshi). He was also a talented poet and calligrapher. He wrote three books about painting theory: On Painting (《论画》), Introduction of Famous Paintings of Wei and Jin Dynasties (《魏晋胜流画赞》) and Painting Yuntai Mountain (《画云台山记》). He wrote: "In figure paintings the clothes and the appearances were not very important. The eyes were the spirit and the decisive factor." Gu's art is known today through copies of three silk handscroll paintings attributed to him: “Nv Shi Zhen Tu” (女史箴图, Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies), “Luo Shen Fu Tu” (洛神赋图 , Nymph of the Luo River) , and “Lienv Renzhi Tu” (列女仁智图 , Wise and Benevolent Women).
Zong Bing (375~443)
Zong Bing, painter and art theorist made important contributions to Chinese art theory especially in developing Gu Kaizhi's theory of spirit and form and clarifying and tackling issues of perspective and composition. In the field of theory Zong Bing promoted a view that saw landscape painting as a spiritual domain that enables humans to dwell in. His theory can be found in his essay Introduction to Painting Landscapes. Zong Bing was famous for his landscape paintings. Xie He, an art theorist in Southern Qi, said Zong’s painting was “not accurate but its atmosphere worth recommend”. His famous paintings include “Kongzi Dizi Xiang” (孔子弟子像 , Portraits of Confucius’ Students), “Yingchuan Xianxian Tu” (颍川先贤图 , Saints in Ying Chuan), “Zhou Li Tu” (周礼图 , Rites of the Zhou), “Qiu Shan Tu” (秋山图, Autumn Mountains), and “Lijia Yiwu Tu” (礼嘉邑屋图 , Lijia Cottage), etc. He was also a wonderful qin player, finishing the editing of an ancient music book Jin Shi Nong (《金石弄》).
Jing Hao (9th century~early 10th century c.)
Jing Hao was an important landscape painter and essayist of the Five Dynasties (907-960) period.
Jing spent much of his life in retirement as a farmer in the Taihang Mountains of Shanxi province. In his art, Jing followed the court painters of the Tang dynasty in emphasizing the singular grandeur of the landscape. According to his essay Bifa Ji (《笔法记》, “On Brushstrokes”), Taihang Mountain was so beautiful that he brought papers and ink brushes into it and painted day after day. Not until he painted thousands of landscapes, he could not grasp the mountain’s spirit. Jing Hao was the first great figure to adequately depict the characteristic landscape of the north, because he always observed and learnt from the nature.
Mi Fu (1051~1107)
Mi Fu was a Chinese painter, poet, and calligrapher born in Taiyuan, Shanxi during the Song Dynasty. In painting he gained renown for his style of painting misty landscapes. This style would be deemed the “Mi Fu Style” and involved the use of large wet dots of ink applied with a flat brush. He is best known for his calligraphy, and he was regarded as one of the four greatest calligraphers in Song Dynasty. As a personality Mi Fu was noted as an eccentric. At times they even deemed him “Madman Mi”. He also was known as a heavy drinker.
Su Shi (1037~1101)
Su Shi was a writer, poet, artist, calligrapher, pharmacologist, and statesman of the Northern Song Dynasty. His courtesy name was Zizhan and his pseudonym was Dongpo Jushi (Resident of Dongpo), and he is often referred to as Su Dongpo. Su Shi was born in Meishan, near Mount Emei in what is now Sichuan province. His brother Su Zhe and his father Su Xun were both famous literati and they were called The Three Sus. Su was among the earliest to advocate the scholar painting and later founded Huzhou School. Su's poem was teemed with exaggerated metaphors. A small group of them represented the sufferings of the people, scolding governors' dissipation and debauchery. His poems exerted great influence on literature of later generations. As to ci (lyrics), Su Shi and Xin Qiji were called Su-Xin for their ci were both of powerful and freestyle. They brought new atmosphere to the circle of ci and broke the monopoly of restrained style. Another of his contribution to ci was that he liberated ci from music. From then on, ci became an independent lyric.
Wang Wei (701~761)
Wang Wei sometimes titled the Poet Buddha, was a Tang Dynasty Chinese poet, musician, painter and statesman. His courtesy name was Mojie, and was from Hedong, the Yellow River area in southwestern Shanxi. He is best known for his poems, which addressed the illusory nature of beauty and the physical world. As well as being a poet, Wang Wei was a painter of some note and the delicate, atmospheric nature of his art is reflected in his poetry. None of his original paintings survive, but copies of works attributed to him are also landscapes with similar qualities. He influenced what became known as the Southern school of Chinese landscape art, which was characterised by strong brushstrokes contrasted with light ink washes. In his later years, he lived at Wangchuan at Lantian, southeast of Chang'an.
Guo Xi (1020~1109)
Born in Wen county in present day Henan province, Guo Xi is not only one of the greatest landscape artists, but also one of the most influential art theorists in the Northern Song dynasty. Although his style can be traced back to Tang dynasty’s famous Li Cheng, he experimented with a variety of different styles. Being a prominent member of the Imperial Academy of Painting GuoXi’s art ornamented large parts of the imperial palace' especially during the reign of emperor Shenzong who admired his work. Lin Quan Gao Zhi (《林泉高致》, Collection of Hermit in Woods and Spring), written by Guo Xi, is an important work of aesthetic ideology in Chinese painting. It provides a deep analysis and research on Guo Xi’s key aesthetic ideology “Beyond Nature”. Guo Xi developed a strategy of depicting multiple perspectives called "the angle of totality." And his theory of “Three Distances” shows that Chinese landscape painting has entered a more mature stage. His important masterpieces include “Zao Chun” (早春, Early Spring), “Keshi Pingyuan Tu” (窠石平远图, Old Trees, Level Distance), “Guanshan Chunxue Tu” (关山春雪图), Spring Snow in Guan Mountain) and “Yougu” (幽谷, Quiet Valley), etc.
Qian Xuan (1235~1301)
Qian Xuan was a Song loyalist painter from Zhejiang and most of his life was lived in early Yuan Dynasty. He started as an aspiring scholar-official during the Southern Song. When the Mongol Yuan took over China in 1276 he effectively gave up the idea of officialdom. Like many of his compatriots, he turned to artistic pursuits to support himself. He was accomplished in painting of ancient figure, landscape, fur-and-feather, calligraphy, and flower-and-bird. In the field of landscape painting, his theory and practice of returning the old tradition and innovation in visual structure inspired many literati painters of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
Ni Zan (1301~1374)
Ni Zan is considered to be one of the four "Late Yuan" masters. He was born into a wealthy family in Wuxi, which could afford him to be educated despite the unavailability of high-paying governmental jobs that traditionally were the reward for a rigorous Confucian education. So he can choose not to serve the foreign Mongol dynasty of the Yuan and lived a life of retirement and scholarship of his whole life. He called himself “Lazy Zan”, or “Pedantic Ni”. As a sticker of cleanliness, Ni washed and cleaned his clothes several times a day, and even washed the trees around his house. He was part of a movement that radically altered the traditional conceptions of Chinese painting. Their paintings depicted representations of natural settings that were highly localized, portraying personally valued vistas that reflected their individual feelings. His works include “Yuhou Konglin” (雨后空林 , The Empty Woods after Rain), “Wuzhu Xiaoshi” (梧竹秀石 , Bamboo and Rocks), etc.
Dong Qichang (1555~1636)
Chinese painter, calligrapher, connoisseur, theoretician, collector and high official in late Ming Dynasty. Born in Huating (today’s Songjiang in Shanghai), Dong’s courtesy name was Xuanzai or Yuanzai, and his pseudonym was Si Bai and Xiangguang Jushi. He was the main representative of Huating School.
Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou
Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou is the name for a group of eight Chinese painters in the Qing dynasty known for rejecting the orthodox ideas about painting in favor of a style deemed expressive and individualist. They all gathered in Yangzhou, a business center in China at that time. The term was also used not only for geographic reason, it also because they each had strong personalities at variance with the conventions of their own time. Most of them were from impoverished or troubled backgrounds. Still the term is, generally, more a statement about their style rather than being a judgment of them as personally being among history's noted eccentrics. The group includes Jin Nong, Huang Shen, Gao Xiang, Li Fangying, Li Shan, Luo Ping, and Wang Shishen. Other artists, such as Gao Fenghan, Bian Shoumin, Min Zhen, and Hua Yan, are sometimes included. Their style was influenced by Chen Chun, Xu Wei, Zhu Da, Shi Tao, and Gao Qipei, etc.
Eight Masters from Nanjing
The Eight Masters of Nanjing (Nanjing’s old name was Jinling) were a group of 17th century Chinese painters living in Nanjing. The most prominent of them was Gong Xian. The famous painters in this group included Gong Xian, Fan Qi, Ye Xin, Zou Che, Gao Cen, Hu Cao, Wu Hong, and Xie Sun. The style of their paintings was different.
Wilhelm Worringer (1881～1965)
Wilhelm Worringer was a German art historian. He is known in connection with expressionism. His best-known works are Abstraction and Empathy in 1908, which was his doctoral thesis, and Form in Gothic published in 1911. After World War I, Worringer became a professor in Bonn University, where he wrote Egyptian Art and Greek and Gothic Art. He moved to Konigsberg in 1928 and to East Germany in 1945. He was a professor in Halle University when this country was under the control of Soviet Union. In 1950 he settled in Munich and lived there until his death. Worringer was influential because he saw abstract as being in no way inferior to "realist" art, and worthy of respect in its own right. This was critical justification for the increased use of abstraction in pre-war European art.
Kang Youwei (1858～1927)
Kang Youwei, born in Foshan, Guangdong, was a famous scholar, noted calligrapher and political reformist in Chinese modern history. Kang came from a wealthy family of scholar-officials. He was a strong believer in constitutional monarchy and wanted to remodel the country after Meiji Japan. He was an important leader of a campaign to modernize China now known as the Reform Movement of 1898 (or Hundred Days' Reform). After the reform failed Kang fled to Japan, where with his student Liang he organized the Protect the Emperor Society. He returned China in 1914, after the Qing Dynasty fell and the Republic of China was established.
Gong Xian (1618~1689)
A painter in Qing dynasty. His courtesy names included Bian Qian, Ye Yi, Qi Xian, and his pseudonyms were Ban Mu (half acre) and Chai Zhangren (old man of firewood). He was born in Kunshan in Jiangsu province and later moved to Nanjing. One of the Eight Masters from Nanjing.
Chen Duxiu (1879～1942)
A founder of the Chinese Communist Party and a major leader in developing the cultural basis of revolution in China. Chen Duxiu was born in the city of Anqing in Anhui province. He moved to Shanghai in 1900 and Japan in 1901. It was in Japan where Chen became influenced by western socialism and the growing Chinese dissident movement. During this time, Chen became an increasingly influential activist in the revolutionary movement against foreign imperialism, the Qing government, and Yuan Shikai. In 1915, he chiefly edited the magazine Youth (renamed as New Youth the next year), which started the prelude of New Culture Campaign. In 1916, he was employed to take charge of the science of arts in Peking University, where he initiated the magazine of Weekly Review with Li Dazhao two years later. Since then, he directly devoted himself into the struggle of patriotic movement. He was one of the prominent leaders of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. In the summer of 1920, he set up the first communism group in Shanghai with the help of the Communist International. From the first session to the fifth session of the national congress of CPC, he was elected the head of communist party.
Lv Zheng (1896~1989)
Lv Zheng went to Japan to study art at 20. Being angry at Japanese invasion in China, he returned China soon. In 1918, Lv went to Nanjing to assist Ouyang Jingwu to found the Cheen Institute of Inner Learning (支那内学院), an institute of Chinese Buddhism. Lv Zheng was proficient in languages associated with Buddhism, including Japanese, Sanskrit, Pali and Tibetan, etc, and was one of the most accomplished Buddhism researchers in China.
Lu Xun (1881～1936)
Lu Xun is a famous writer, thinker, and revolutionist of the 20th century in China. Born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, Lu Xun was first named Zhou Zhangshu and later renamed Shuren, literally, “to nurture a person”. In 1904, he went to Japan to pursue a Western medical degree at Sendai Medical School, where, however, he found it was more important to cure his compatriots' spiritual ills rather their physical diseases. He decided to be a wrtier. In 1918, Lu Xun used his pen name for the first time and published the first major baihua short story, “A Madman's Diary”, in the magazine New Youth. It immediately established him as one of the most influential leading writers of his day. Both his first short story collection Call to Arms (published in 1923) and the second collection Wandering (published in 1926) won him a reputation of one of the founders of Chinese Modern Literature. Although highly sympathetic of the Chinese Communist movement, Lu Xun himself never joined the Chinese Communist Party despite being a staunch socialist as he professed in his works.
Xu Beihong (1895～1953)
Xu Beihong (born in Yixing, Jiangsu) was a modern Chinese painter, art educator and art theorist. Considered a modern master in China, he merged Western techniques with classic Chinese approaches. From the beginning of 1919, Xu studied western art overseas in Paris, Berlin and Belgium. In 1927 he came back to China and taught art in several academies. After the foundation of People’s Republic of China, he became president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and chairman of the Chinese Artists Association. Xu stuck to a way of realism, and his famous paintings include “Tianheng Wubaishi” (田横五百士, Tianheng and Five Hundred Brave Men), “Yugong Yishan” (愚公移山, Foolish Old Man Removing a Mountain), etc.
“Refugees”(ink and colour on paper, 200 X 2600 cm) is the representing work painted by Jiang Zhaohe, who started the creation of “Refugees” at the Japanese occupied areas in Beiping in 1941. It vividly describes a hundred refugees trying to escape from the bombing in the war.
Qi Baishi (1864～1957)
Qi Baishi was a Chinese painter. Born to a peasant from Xiangtan, Hunan, Qi became a carpenter at 14. He learned to paint by himself firstly, then studied literature, seal carving, calligraphy and painting from local literati Chen Shaoran and Hu Qinyuan. In the following years he could make a living by selling paintings and seal carving. After he turned 40, he traveled five times to visit famous sceneries in China. He is most noted for his whimsical, often playful style of ink and wash works. All of his works show no western influences, which was unique and different from most artists at his time. At the age of 90, he was honored as "People's Artist" by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and was selected chairman of the Chinese Artists' Association. In 1956 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the United Nations and later, after his death, was listed as a world cultural celebrity.
Hui Shouping (1633~1690)
Born in Wujing in Jiangsu province, painter Hui Shouping was one of the Six Masters in Early Qing dynasty, which included Wu Li and the Four Wangs too. Among the Six, only Hui Shouping excelled at both landscape and flower-and-bird. His renovation in flower-and-bird painting won him the reputation of important flower-and-bird painter in early Qing dynasty.
Yi Yuan Lun Hua (On Paintings by Yi Yuan)
Yi Yuan Lun Hua (颐园论画 , On Paintings by Yi Yuan) is an essays collection written by Song Nian. Song Nian’s courtesy name was Xiao Meng, and his pseudonym was Yi Yuan. He founded the Painting Association of Zhenliu in Ji’nan during the reign of emperor Guangxu. The lectures he wrote for the association was collected, named Yi Yuan Lun Hua.
The Xinhai Revolution, named for the Chinese year of Xinhai (1911), was the overthrow of China's ruling Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China. The revolution began with the armed Wuchang Uprising and the spread of republican insurrection through the southern provinces, and culminated in the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor after lengthy negotiations between rival Imperial and Republican regimes based in Beijing and Nanjing respectively. Led by Sun Zhongshan, the Revolution inaugurated a period of struggle over China's eventual constitutional form, which saw two brief monarchical restorations and successive periods of political fragmentation before the Republic's final establishment. Leaving the brilliant impression on China modern history, the Xinhai Revolution is a great piece of political affair, which is the first time to flag Democracy republic on China. It overthrew the Qing dynasty and founded the Republic of China. This emancipated the people from the rule of the feudal system.
May Fourth Movement
The May Fourth Movement takes its name from the massive popular protest that took place on May 4th 1919 in Beijing, China. It was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement in early modern China, and it marked the upsurge of Chinese nationalism, and a re-evaluation of Chinese culture. Science and democracy became the code words of the movement. The May Fourth Movement came out from the New Culture Movement.
First mentioned in the Book of Change, Taiji (or Taichi) is an important concept in Chinese history of thought. It was a state primeval chaos before birth of the world and before the world split into Yin and Yang (Two Aspects). Taiji was said to be the primary of the universe.
The Book of Change
The Book of Change (《周易》) is a Chinese classical book in Zhou dynasty. Its Chinese name is Zhou Yi (《周易》), or Yi (《易》), or Yi Jing (《易经》). “Yi” means change. As the result of ancient Chinese intelligence, the book was about the essence and laws of the universe. Its influence on Chinese culture lasted for thousands of years.
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher. His thinking has contributed to such diverse fields as phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, political theory, psychology, theology, and postmodernism. His main concern was ontology or the study of being. His best-known work is Being and Time.
Chen Shizeng (1876 ~1923)
Courtesy name Chengke. A critic, painter, and educator of early 20th-century China. His brother is famous Chinese historian Chen Yinke. In 1902 Chen went to Japan to study natural history. In 1913 Chen went to Beijing and became an editor in Ministry of Education the next year. He published a very inspiring essay called “The Value of Literati Paintings” in 1921, pointing out the relationship between literati paintings and traditional Chinese philosophy. He said that each scholar painting had a special meaning behind.
Li Bai (701~762)
Li Bai was a Chinese poet. Li Bai is often regarded, along with Du Fu, as one of the two greatest poets in China's literary history. Approximately 1,100 of his poems remain today. Li Bai is best known for the extravagant imagination and striking imagery in his poetry, as well as for his great love for liquor. Li Bai is considered as the foremost romantic poet after Qu Yuan. And he is one of the most renowned and admired poets in China.
Li Gonglin (1049-1106)
Gonglin, courtesy name Li Boshi, pseudonym Longmian Jushi (Resident of Sleeping Dragon), was a Chinese painter, civil officer and archaeologist in the Northern Song Dynasty. He became famous for his paintings of horses, then he turned to Buddhism and Taoism religious painting, as well as portrait and landscape painting. His painting style was attributed to the style of Gu Kaizhi and Wu Taozi, developing their technique of line drawing. “Lin Weiyan Mufang Tu” (临韦偃牧放图 , Painting after Wei Yan's Pasturing Horses) is his most famous painting.
Liang Kai (early 13th century c.)
Liang Kai was a Chinese artist who studied with, and then excelled, his master, Jia Shigu. In 1210, he was awarded the rank of Painter-in-Attendance at court, but he refused it. Instead, calling himself "Madman Liang", he spent his life drinking and painting. Eventually, he retired and became a Zen monk. Famous for his figure painting, Liang is credited with inventing the Zen school of Chinese art. He managed to capture figures’ essences by simplicity and understatement of the work. Simplicity means the fundamental lines of a figure. His style influenced many painters in Ming and Qing dynasties even modern China. His famous paintings include “Liuzu Zhuozhu Tu”, (六祖斫竹图, The Sixth Patriarch (Hui Neng) Chopping the Bamboo), “Bagaoseng Gushi Tu” (八高僧故事图 , Painting of the Eight Monks), and “Pomo Xianren Tu” (泼墨仙人图 , Immortal in Splashed Ink).
Mu Xi (13th century c.)
Surname Li, Buddhist name Fachang, and hao, Mu Xi was a native of Sichuan Province. His year of birth is unknown. He was a monk and a painter from the late-Song to early-Yuan periods. He was skilled at painting Bodhisattvas, figures, birds and flowers, wild beasts (dragons, tigers, monkeys and cranes), landscapes and vegetation. His brush stroke was executed freely with both meticulous brushwork and free sketch painting, which resulted in mixed reviews from his successors. The aura rendered by his brush invokes the realm of Zen. Most of his works are now found in Japan and are widely appreciated.
Chen Banding (1877—1970)
Real name Chen Nian, courtesy name Banding, Chen was adept in idea-sketch painting of flowers, landscapes and human figures. His technique was influenced by Wu Changshuo.
Li Yu (1611～1679)
Li Yu was born in Lanxi in Jiangsu province. Courtesy names Lihong and Zefan, Pseudonym Li Wong. Li Yu's plays and drama theory are his biggest accomplishments. Ten of his plays remain, including Bi Mu Yu (《比目鱼》, ”Flatfish”) and Feng Zheng Wu (《风筝误》, “Errors Caused by the Kite”). In his book Xian Qing Ou Ji (《闲情偶寄》, “Occasional Notes with Leisure Motions”), he divulges useful information pertaining to cooking, architecture, collections and planting. He also wrote a book of short stories called Shi’er Lou (《十二楼》, “Twelve Towers”).
Li Tang (1050~1130 c.)
Li Tang was born in Henan province in the town of Sancheng. 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 Kaifeng, where he was an important member of the Imperial Painting Academy and a friend of Emperor Huizong. Li Tang painted traditional Song 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 Tang, then over seventy-five years old, moved south to Hangzhou to teach in the New Academy there. He brought with him the disciplined Song style of brushwork. “Ru Niu Tu” (乳牛图, Child on Buffalo), “Cai Wei Tu” (采薇图, Pick the Rosebush), “Wanhe Songfeng Tu” (万壑松风图, Whispering Pines in the Mountains) are some of his most famous works.
Jian Jiang (1610-1664)
Jian Jiang was from She county of Anhui province and a member of the Anhui or Xin'an school of painting in Qing dynasty. His original name was Jiang Tao. He is noted for painting Mount Huangshan. After the fall of the Ming dynasty he became a monk, Budhhistic monastic name Hong Ren. This makes him one of the "Four Monks" along with Zhu Da, Shi Tao, and Kun Can.
The Four Wangs were four Chinese landscape painters in the 17th century, all called Wang. They were Wang Shimin (1592-1680), Wang Jian (1598-1677), Wang Hui (1632-1717) and Wang Yuanqi (1642-1715). They were fervent followers of Dong Qichang of the late Ming. The Four Wangs are grouped together for two main reasons. They were all related by blood or in student-teacher relations, working in the same period at the end of the Ming and beginning of the Qing. The second reason is their artistic tendencies and the fact that they belonged to the same tradition and shared the same beliefs concerning art. It can be said that the Four Wangs stressed the importance of technique of brush and ink application and meticulous copying of ancient forms.
Zhang Yanyuan (c. 815~?)
Zhang Yanyuan, courtesy name Aibin, was a Chinese art historian, scholar, calligrapher and painter of the late Tang Dynasty. He was born to a high ranking family in present-day Yuncheng, Shanxi. Zhang wrote several works about art and calligraphy, among them Fashu Yaolu (《法书要录》, "Compendium of Calligraphy"), a collection of poems on color paper, and Lidai Minghua Ji (《历代名画记》, "Famous Paintings through History") - a general arts book, about the famous historical paintings. Zhang created his own style of art history writing, combining historical facts and art critic. His book also described the painter's lives thoroughly, including biography and works.
Fang Xun (1736~1799)
Courtesy name Landi or Lanru, pseudonym Lanshi, Lanru, Lansheng, Changqing and Yu’er Nongxiang, Fang Xun was born in Shimen, Zhejiang province. He was said an impetuous and upright person, as unsophisticated as monk. Fang was good at poem, calligraphy and painting. As a painter he was on a par with Xi Gang, called Fang and Xi by their contemporaries.
Zou Yigui (1686~1772)
Chinese poet, literati, calligrapher and painter from Qing dynasty in the 18th century. He was a student of Hui Shouping, and as his teacher, Zou also excelled at flower painting in bright colours. In his book Xiaoshan Huapu (《小山花谱》, “Painting Manual of Xiaoshan”), Zou elaborated on techniques of flower painting, composition, coloring, staining, methods to paint trees and rocks, shading, painters, schools of painters, pigments, framing, and papers, in which he said: “Western painters are good at delineating, so their paintings, regardless of distance and light, faithfully represent the real objects. All the figures, houses and trees that are drawn have shadows. The colors and techniques of painting used by them are completely different from those in Chinese painting. The compositions range from wide to narrow, and can be measured by triangle. Palaces, rooms and walls in the paintings are so vivid that the audience may wish to enter them. If learners learn from their craft, they can get some inspiration. But western paintings have no brushwork at all, so in spite of their technical dexterity, they cannot be classified as artworks as such.”
Wanmu Caotang Canghua Mu (Catalogue of Painting Collection in Ten Thousand Vegetation Pavilion)
Wanmu Caotang Canghua Mu (《万木草堂藏画目》, Catalogue of Painting Collection in Ten Thousand Vegetation Pavilion), accomplished in 1917, was one of Kang Youwei (1858~1927)’s signature works. It consists of a foreword and after word, and discusses art from different historical periods. Kang Youwei clearly states his view of reforming Chinese painting in the foreword. Even though this compilation is titled as a list of paintings, its critical writings make up most of the volume. It is a work of art theory by Kang Youwei, coupled with his theories on calligraphy compiled in Guangyizhou Shuangji (《广艺舟双楫》). An acclaimed calligrapher and art collector; Kang Youwei was deeply perplexed by the fate of Chinese panting in the modern period and showed deep concern for its fate. In compiling this collection, he was motivated by his study and reflections on the history of Chinese art in order to refresh the waning of art theory from the late-Ming to Qing period.
Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty
The Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty is a name used to collectively describe the four Chinese painters Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, Wang Meng active in the Yuan Dynasty. Wang Shizhen said in his Yiyuan Zhiyan (《艺苑卮言》, Comments On Art), that the Four Masteres were Zhao Mengfu, Wuzhen, Huang Gongwang and Wang Meng, but it was not widely accepted. They worked during the Yuan period and were revered during the Ming Dynasty and later periods as major exponents of the tradition of literati painting, which was concerned more with individual expression and learning than with outward representation and immediate visual appeal. They were all natives in Southern China, all were good at ink landscapes, and all were influenced by Zhao Mengfu. The Four Masters were noted for their lofty personal and aesthetic ideals, the art of landscape painting shifted from an emphasis on close representation of nature to a personal expression of nature's qualities. They spurred experimentation with novel brushstroke techniques, with a new attention to the vocabulary of brush manipulation.
Xu Wei (1521~1593)
Xu Wei was a Ming Chinese painter, poet and dramatist famed for his artistic expressiveness. His courtesy names were Wenqing and then Wenchang. His various pseudonyms were Tianchi Shanren (The Mountain-man of the Heavenly Pond), Qingteng Jushi (Resident of the Green Vine House) and Shutian Shuiyue (The Water and Moon of the Bureau's Farm). Revolutionary for its time, his painting style influenced and inspired countless subsequent painters, such as Zhu Da, the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, and the modern masters Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi. Xu Wei can be considered as the founder of modern painting in China. In addition Xu was a relatively unknown playwright, authoring four plays. Xu Wei was also a poet in his style of considerable note. His works today available are Xu Wenchang Quanji (《徐文长全集》, “Xu Wenchang’s Collected Works); Xu Wenchang Yicao (《徐文长佚草》, “Xu Wenchang’s Cursive Scripts); and Si Sheng Yuan (《四声猿》, “The Four Shrieks of the Ape”), a poetic drama of Yuan style; Nanci Xulu (《南词叙录》, “Account of the Southern Style of Drama”), a book of drama theory. Xu Wei’s influence continues to exert itself.
The Four Monks were four famous monk painters in early Qing dynasty. They are Bada Shanren (Zhu Da), Shi Tao (Zhu Ruoji), Hong Ren (Jian Jiang) and Kun Can (Shi Xi), who lived in late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty. Out of them, Bada Shanren and Shi Tao were from royal family of Ming dynasty. The four monks painted in reaction to conservative trends where artists were preoccupied with reproducing landscapes of old masters in highly ornamental and somewhat rigid styles. The attack against conventions is at the same time a political protest against the occupation of China by the foreign Manchu rulers and the dissatisfaction with a new reality imposed on the locals. This explains why the Four Monks preferred to turn their back on society and avoid collaborating with the aggressive Qing rulers. Their interests in painting came partly from a desire to escape from the mundane world by inosculating themselves with nature. Their love for landscapes and flower-and-bird paintings also suggests the bittersweet nostalgia underlying their mutual resentment of the political situation of the time.
Rock painting is the general term including colored drawing, line carving and relief sculpture on the wall of caves, cliffs or isolated rocks. Rock Painting was found in many places around the world. China is the earliest country that found and recorded Rock Painting. Wide in distribution and large in number, China became an important component of world's Rock Painting. Rock paintings located in eighteen provinces and more than one hundred cities in China. Among them nearly 30 locations, including the Yin Mountain (阴山) in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Helan Mountain (贺兰山) in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Hei Mountain (黑山) in Gansu province, Altai Mountain (阿尔泰山) in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Jiangjun Cliff (将军崖) in Jiangsu province, Cangyuan (沧源) in Yunnan province and Zuoyou River in Guangxi province are the most important. According to its area, content and style, Chinese rock painting falls into three schools -- the northeast, the southwest, and the southeast. Northern Chinese Rock Paintings are mainly grinding and carving about grazine, hunting and animals in a realistic style. Rock Paintings of southwest school are often representing religious activities and painted in red. As to Rock Paintings found in coastal area of southeast China, most are about sailing and represented in abstract designs by chiseling and carving.
A totem is any entity which watches over or assists a group of people, such as a family, clan or tribe. It derived from the root-oode-in the Ojibwe language, which referred to something kinship-related, c.f. odoodem, “his totem”. The word root “odoo” represents the blood relation between brothers and sisters of a same mother, who are forbidden to marry each other. In 1971, a British merchant translated “odoodem” into “totem”. Although the term is of Ojibwa origin, “totemism”, which was derived from totem, is not limited to Native American Indians. Similar totemism-like beliefs have been historically found throughout much of the world. Yan Fu, a scholar in modern China, was the first person introduced this word to China. He said: “Totem, a religious belief of foreign groups, is usually used to differ one group from others”. That is, the totem is usually an animal or other naturalistic figure that spiritually represents a group of related people such as a clan.
Chinese Bronze history started beside the Yellow river. Bronze utensils were found from the relics of Longshan culture and Qijia culture in the Late Neolithic Age. Bronze was a kind of alloy, made of red copper and tin. The percentage of copper and tin of the alloy was different for different utilities, which was the so-called “Six Metallic Components” in Kao Gong Ji (《周礼·考工记》, an old book in ancient China). In the late Shang dynasty Chinese had used Bronze wares in almost every important aspects in their lifes, including sacrificial vessel, music instruments, weapons, chariots utilities and tools. During Xia, Shang and Zhou pieriod, bronze was prevailing in handicraft production, so this period is called Bronze Age.
Qu Yuan (ca. 339 BC~278 BC)
Qu Yuan was a loyal minister in the government of the state of Chu. The Chu king, however, fell under the influence of other corrupt, jealous ministers who slandered Qu Yuan, and then banished him. In Qu Yuan’s exile, he collected many legends and folk odes, and produced some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature while expressing his fervent love for his state and his deepest concern for its future. In 278 BC, after learning of the capture of his country's capital, Ying, by the state of Qin, Qu Yuan waded into the Miluo river. holding a great rock in order to commit ritual suicide as a form of protest against the corruption of the era. Popular legend has it that villagers carried Zongzi (glutinous rice dumpling) and put them into the river in order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body. The act gradually became the cultural tradition of dragon boat racing, which is held on the anniversary of his death every year (the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar), called Duan Wu festival. Qu Yuan is generally recognised as the first great Chinese poet with record. He initiated the style of Sao, which is named after his work Li Sao (《离骚》), in which he abandoned the classic four-character verses used in poems and adopted verses with varying lengths, which gives the poem more rhythm and latitude in expression. Qu Yuan’s most important works include Li Sao, Jiu Zhang (《九章》), Jiu Ge (《九歌》), and Tian Wen (《天问》). Qu Yuan is also regarded as one of the most prominent figures of Romanticism in Chinese literature, and his masterpieces influenced some of the greatest Romanticist poets in Tang Dynasty such as Li Bai and Du Fu. Other than his literary influence, Qu Yuan is also held as the earliest patriotic poet in China history. His political idealism and patriotism have served as the model for Chinese intellectuals to this day.
Dragon and Phoenix Human Figure Painting on Silk
In February1949 the painting was unearthed in a tomb of the Chu Kingdom near Changsha in Hunan Province. It’s the earliest traditional Chinese painting found so far. The painting was executed about 2,300 years ago on a piece of white silk used as a banner in traditional Chinese funerals. It is the profile of a noble woman dressed in a garment with full sleeves and a long skirt. She has her palms together, as if praying. On her top and her right side are a phoenix and a dragon. It’s said that the woman in the picture was a portrayal of the one buried in the tomb, and the phoenix and dragon are leading her up to heaven. In 1973 another silk painting was found in the tomb of the Chu Kingdom, called “Driving Dragon Painting”. “The Dragon and Phoenix Human Figure Painting on Silk” and the “Driving Dragon Painting” show us the painting styles in the Warring States Period.
Kongzi Jiayu (《孔子家语》, The School Sayings of Confucius), or Jiayu, is an early Han period collection of parables centering around Confucius and his disciples, laying stress upon his teachings about ethical human conduct. Annotated by the late Han scholar Wang Su, it’s one of Confucian classical books. Ma Duanlin, a scholar in Yuan dynasty, quoted Wang Su’s note in his Wenxian Tongkao - Section Jingji Kao (《文献通考.经籍考》, Critical Examinations of Documents-Study of Classics), “Kongzi Jiayu is the dialogues between the nobles, Confucius and his seventy-two disciples. The disciples wrote down what they talked. The important sayings were collected and named as Lunyu (《论语》, Analects), and the rest were collected and named as Kongzi Jiayu.” It means this book is a complement of the Confucian Analects Lunyu.
Qin Shihuang (259 BC~210 BC)
Qin Shihuang (秦始皇), personal name Ying Zheng, was the king of the Chinese State of Qin from 247 BCE to 221 BCE, he absorbed States Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan, and Qi, and then became the first emperor of a unified China, known as Qin Dynasty, from 221 BCE to 210 BCE, ruling under the name Shihuang (the First Emperor).
Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC~87 BC)
Emperor Wu of Han, personal name Liu Che, was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty in China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized. He is cited in Chinese history as one of the greatest emperors. As a military campaigner, Emperor Wu led Han China through its greatest expansion — at its height, the Empire's borders spanned from the modern Kyrgyzstan in the west, to the northern Korea in the northeast, and to northern Vietnam in the south. While establishing an autocratic and centralized state, Emperor Wu adopted the principles of Confucianism as the state philosophy and code of ethics for his empire and started a school to teach future administrators the Confucian classics. These reforms would have an enduring effect throughout the existence of imperial China and an enormous influence on neighbouring civilizations. The “Han” in “The Prosperous Han and Tang Dynasties (汉唐盛世)” just means the period during Emperor Wu of Han’s reign.
Huo Qubing (140 BC~117 BC)
Huo Qubing was a famous general of the western Han dynasty under Emperor Wu. A nephew of another famous Han general Wei Qing, Huo Qubing exhibited outstanding military talent as a teenager. He defeats the Xiongnu troops four times in his life. As a result, he gained great favour with the Emperor. Huo Qubing died at the early age of 24 due to a plague.
Cao’s Clothing as Water
It’s a saying to describe Cao Zhongda’s outlining method of the drapes of ancient clothes. Cao Zhongda, a Northern Qi painter from the Central Asian kingdom of Cao, was famous for his Buddhist paintings as the “Cao style”, characterized by closely pleated garments clinging to the body as though they had just emerged from water. It’s the “Cao’s Clothing of Water”. “Cao’s Style” is the style of the earliest centuries of Buddhism art reached China and mixed with Chinese art.
Wang Wei (415~453)
Wang Wei, a landscape painter in Liu Song of Southern Dynasty. In his essay On Paintings (《叙画》), Wang Wei pointed out the difference between landscape painting and map, and emphasized the importance of concinnity and emotion in landscape painting. His theory of “please one’s spirit” showed that he realized how nature and landscapes could cultivate mankind.
“Luo Shen Fu Tu” (洛神赋图 , Nymph of the Luo River)
“The Nymph of the Luo River” was painted by Gu Kaizhi, an established painter during the Eastern Jin Dynasty. Painting “Nymph of the Luo River” survives in three copies dating to the Song dynasty. It illustrates a poem Ode to The Nymph of the Luo River (《洛神赋》) written by Cao Zhi. The painting depicts the meeting between Cao Zhi and the Nymph of the Luo River at Luo River, vividly capturing the mood of their first meeting and eventual separation. The painter emphasized the tension between figures not by their expressions, but mainly by the composition of figures, stones, mountains and trees.
The Emperor Taizong of Tang (599~649)
Emperor Taizong of Tang, personal name Li Shimin, was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649. As he encouraged his father, Li Yuan (later Emperor Gaozu) to rise against Sui Dynasty rule at Taiyuan in 617 and subsequently defeated several of his most important rivals, he was ceremonially regarded as a cofounder of the dynasty along with Emperor Gaozu. He is typically considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, emperor in all of Chinese history. Throughout the rest of Chinese history, Emperor Taizong's reign was regarded as the exemplary model against which all other emperors were measured, and his "Reign of Zhen'guan" (贞观之治) was considered a golden age of Chinese history and required study for future crown princes. During his reign, Tang China flourished economically and militarily, and after his death, Tang China still enjoyed the peace and prosperity for more than a hundred years.
Yan Liben (c.600~673)
Yan Liben was a Chinese painter and government official (the Prime Minister of the Right) of the early Tang Dynasty. He excelled at figure painting, especially nobles, officials and court figures deprived from history. His notable works include the “Eighteen Scholars Served in Qin” (《秦府十八学士》), “Portraits at Lingyan Pavilion” (《凌烟阁二十四功臣像》), “Duty Tribute” (《职贡图》), and “Officials of Yonghui” (《永徽朝臣图》), etc. The copy of his “Emperor Taizong Receiving the Tibetan Envoy” (《步辇图》) and “Portraits of Chinese Emperors” (《历代帝王图》) are survived. His works were highly regarded in Chinese art history.
Wu Daozi (c. 690~758)
Wu Daozi was a Chinese artist of the Tang Dynasty, famous for initiating a new style of religious painting, which was called “Wu Style”. “Wu Style” by Wu Daozi and “Cao Style” by Cao Zhongda were both very influential in early Chinese figure painting, whose difference were often described as “Wu’s Belt as Wind, Cao’s Clothing as Water”. The influence of his religious painting style can be seen even after Yuan and Ming dynasty, and the modern artisan painters regarded him as their ancestor. Wu Daozi was called The Sage of Chinese Painting.
Li Zhaodao (c. 670~730)
Li Zhaodao, as his father Li Sixun, was also famous for his landscape paintings. The “Emperor Ming Huang’s Journey to Shu”, attributed to Li Zhaodao, possibly a 10th-11th-century copy, described the journey of the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang to Sichuan escaping from The An Shi Rebellion. It is a representative work of Chinese early blue and green landscape painting.
Han Gan (c. 706~783)
Chinese famous painter in Tang dynasty. Coming from a poor family, Han Gan was recognized by Wang Wei, a prominent poet, who sponsored Han in learning arts. Chen Hong and Cao Ba were both his teachers. Han became a painter-in-attendance during the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang’s reign. Han painted many portraits and Buddhism themed paintings, but he is most widely remembered for his paintings of horses. He was reputed to be able to not only portray the physical body of the horse, but also its spirit. Han Gan’s works include the famous painting "Night-Shining White", portrait of a favorite steed of Emperor Xuanzong.
Mo Gao Ku
Located near the historic junction of the Northern and Southern Silk Roads, Dunhuang was a town of military importance from China to western world in ancient days. . In 366 A.D. a monk named Yuezun had a vision of the Buddhas over the Sanwei Mountain opposite the cliff of the Mingsha Mountain, so the devout believer set to build the first cave on the cliff. Since then more and more caves have been excavated over a thousand year. Now there are 492 caves kept, in which there are more than 2400 sculptures and 450 thousands square meters of mural paintings. Mo Gao Ku is the most important cave temple in China. The caves show an uninterrupted history of Chinese painting, over a period of nearly a thousand years from Northern dynasties.
An Shi Rebellion
The An Shi Rebellion took place in China during the Tang Dynasty, from 755 to 763. An Lushan was a general of Sodgian-Turkic ancestry (i.e., non-Han). He was appointed by the Xuanzong emperor to be commander (节度使) of three garrisons in the north—Pinglu, Fanyang and Hedong. In effect, An was given control over the entire area north of the lower reaches of the Yellow River. With such power and land in his control, An Lushan committed a revolt. When An Lushan 's forces went near Chang’an, seeing the imminent threat to the capital, Emperor Xuanzong fled to Sichuan with his household. On the way, at Mawei Inn in Shaanxi, Xuanzong's bodyguard troops demanded the death of Yang Guozhong and his cousin Lady Yang. With the army on the verge of mutiny, the Emperor had no choice but to agree, ordering the execution of Yang Guozhong and the suicide of Lady Yang. Meanwhile, the crown prince Li Heng, now called Suzong, fled in the other direction to Lingzhou and was then proclaimed emperor. The new Imperial forces recaptured both Chang'an and Luoyang, and were helped by internal dissent in the newly-formed dynasty. An Lushan was killed by his son, An Qingxu, not long after his ascent to the throne. His son was then killed by a subordinate, general Shi Siming. Shi Siming was killed in turn by his son, Shi Chaoyi. Finally, after Luoyang was taken by the Tang forces for the second time, Shi Chaoyi committed suicide (in 763), thus ending the 8 year long rebellion.
Guan Xiu (832~912)
Guan Xiu, a monk painter at the end of Tang dynasty and the beginning of Five Dynasties, was orphaned and became a monk at the age of seven. He was known for his skill at painting and calligraphy, as well as for his poetry. His most famous paintings are the portraits of arhats and disciples of Sakyamuni, for example, “The Sixteen Arhats” (《十六罗汉图》). The Buddhism figures in his painting are often with thick eyebrows and big eyes, high cheekbones and long nose, which gave them a look of foreigners and Buddhist. The following Buddhism painters often based their portrayals of the arhats on Guan Xiu's paintings.
Shi Ke (active in Five dynasties)
Shi Ke was a painter at the end of Five dynasties and the beginning of Song dynasty. His most famous survived work is “Erzu Tiaoxin Tu”(《二祖调心图》, Two Minds in Harmony).
Guan Tong (active in Five dynasties)
Jing Hao and Guan Tong are the two representative artists of the northern school of landscape painting, the two were also known as Jing-Guan. Apart from leading the same school of art they both found the turmoil in the north of China too much to bear and fled to the remote mountain areas to live in relative solitude. Guan Tong took Jing Hao’s art and went even further when he beautifully reflected the changes that take place throughout the year as the seasons transform nature. He depicted the characterizing features of the different seasons and the effects of nature's changes on the human spirit. This cyclical feature is central in the philosophy and practice of Chinese medicine and Chinese thought in general. Like Jing Hao he represents the Northern School and uses techniques representative of this school, namely, Axe-cut Shading. His famous works include “Shanxi Daidu Tu” (《山溪待渡图》, Across A Mountain Stream) and “Guanshan Xinglv Tu” (《关山行旅图》, Travel in Mountain Guan)
Dong Yuan (c. 934~c. 962)
Dong Yuan as a Chinese painter. He was born in Zhongling. Dong Yuan was active in the Southern Tang Kingdom of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. He was from Nanjing in the Jiangsu province, which was a center for culture and the arts. He and his student Ju Ran were the founders of the southern school of landscape painting, and with Jing Hao and Guan Tong of the northern school they constituted the four seminal painters of that time. Although Dong Yuan became to represent the subtleness of the south and the monochrome style of landscape painting, he also painted in the early style known as Blue and Green Landscape Painting, done in the tradition of the famous Li Sixun. However, he added to the number of techniques, including more sophisticated perspective, use of pointillism and crosshatching to build up vivid effect. “The Xiao and Xiang Rivers” (《潇湘图》), one of his best-known paintings, demonstrates these techniques, and his sense of composition.
Ju Ran (active in Five dynasties)
Ju Ran, a monk painter in Five dynasties, was one of the representative painters of the southern school landscapes. He followed Dong Yuan’s style but went further. Ju Ran's new approach introduces new possibilities and ways of using a Chinese brush, bringing inspiration to painters of later dynasties. His famous paintings include “Wanhe Songfeng Tu” (《万壑松风图》, the Pine-Soughing Valleys), etc.
Huang Quan (?~965)
Born in Chengdu, Huang Quan was comprehensive in different types of drawing, and chosen to be a court drawer in west Shu when he was only 17. He is famous for exquisite sketching and lifelike paintings. The depicted birds in his paintings were full-fledged and flowers looked luxurious under the bush. “Xiesheng Zhenqin Tu” (《写生珍禽图》, Studies from Nature: Birds and Insects) Sketch of Rare Bird Scroll -- a piece handed down from Huang -- vividly depicts many kinds of birds.
Xu Xi (active in Five dynasties)
Xu Xi lived during the Five Dynasties, and was never involved in politics. Xu did not seek fame or wealth -- he just concentrated on painting. He admired the country lifestyle, choosing wild birds and village plants as the theme of his art. Xu used thick strokes and ink, drew branches and leaves plainly, and used a slight hint of color so it would not impair the ink. His works were full of natural and wild interest. “Snow Covers Bamboo” was one of Xu's works that was handed down in history.
Zhao Kuangyin (927~976)
Zhao Kuangyin, Emperor Taizu of Song, was the founder of the Song Dynasty of China, reigning from 960 to 976. He established the core Song Ancestor Rules and Policy for the future emperors. He was remembered for, but not limited to, his reform of the examination system whereby entry to the bureaucracy favored individuals who demonstrated academic ability rather than by birth. He also created academies that allowed a great deal of freedom of discussion and thought, which facilitated the growth of scientific advance, economic reforms as well as achievements in arts and literature. He is perhaps best known for weakening the military and so preventing anyone else rising to power as he did.
Zhang Zeduan (1085~1145)
Zhang Zeduan, alias Zheng Dao, was a famous Chinese painter during the twelfth century, during the transitional period from the Northern Song to the Southern Song Dynasty. He was a native of Dongwu (present Zhucheng, Shandong). There is evidence that he was a court painter of the Northern Song Dynasty, and that in the aftermath of that dynasty's fall, his paintings were criticisms of the new dynasty. Zhang Zeduan's most famous painting is “Qingming Shanghe Tu” (《清明上河图》, Along the River During Qing Ming Festival), a wide handscroll which depicts life in a city. This painting was made famous throughout China. In terms of historical significance, Zhang's original painting reveals much about life in China during the 12th century. Its myriad depictions of different people interacting with one another reveals the nuances of class structure and the many hardships of urban life as well. It also displays accurate depictions of technological practices found in Song China.
Wang Ximeng (active in Northern Song)
Wang Ximeng's “Qianli Jiangshan Tu” (《千里江山图》, A Thousand Li of River and Mountain) is a breathtakingly beautiful blue-and-green landscape panorama painted for the emperor Huizong. Wang was a brilliant young artist who arrived at court in his teens and unfortunately died only a few years later. The young man received the gift of direct instruction in the art of painting from Huizong, and the present picture must have been something like a graduate-examination. It bears a remark by the prime minister, Cai Jing, which provides the only information known about Wang Ximeng. As painted under Huizong's instructions, Wang Ximeng's landscape combines classical roots in the blue-and-green tradition, elegant and realistic drawing, and a glowing, golden atmosphere that is a kind of visual poetry.
Xia Gui (c. 1195~1224)
Xia Gui, Chinese painter of the Song Dynasty, who was one of the great masters of the Southern Song landscape style. He was active in the imperial painting academy at Hangzhou during the reign of Emperor Ningzong of Song. Along with his celebrated contemporary artist Ma Yuan, he broke with the elaborate ornamental style of the period to cultivate a simpler, more emotional mode. Xia’s landscapes, characterized by asymmetrical composition—painting only one corner out of four—reduced human figures and buildings to minor accents. He was especially noted for his brilliant ink technique, in which extremely subtle, graded ink washes and overlapping brushstrokes created complex atmospheric effects of mist, sky, and infinity. In his “Xishan Qingyuan Tu” (《溪山清远图》, Clear View of Streams and Mountains), a 9-m (30-ft) hand scroll, the panoramic sweep of landscape contains a full use of his varied brushwork. Along with Ma Yuan, he gave his name to the succeeding Ma and Xia School of landscape painting.
Mi Youren (1086~1165, or 1074~1153)
Mi Youren, son of the famous Song dynasty literati painter Mi Fu, was also a painter. The father and son created a new style of landscape painting called “Mi Style”, which described mysterious mountains covering mist and fog, by a method of simple brushstroke and lighten ink. They sought after pure nature, and showed a typical taste of literati’s. “Xiaoxiang Qiguan Tu” (《潇湘奇观图》, Spectacular Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers) is Mi Youren’s work.
Ren Renfa (1254~1327)
Ren Renfa was an expert of irrigation works, artist, and a government official in Yuan dynasty. He led the construction of the dams of Wusong river, Tonghui river, Huidong river, Yellow river, Lian Lake, and some sea dams. In his spare time, Ren also drew some outstanding paintings of horses and figures. His style is similar to the artists of the Tang Dynasty and Li Gongling in Song Dynasty. His paintings of horses are comparable to those by Zhao Mengfu.
Gao Kegong (1248~1310)
Painter and Ministry of Justice in Yuan dynasty. Gao Kegong was a Hui Nationality (Uygur). He was good at landscape painting and ink bamboo painting.
Huang Gongwang (1269~1354)
Huang Gongwang was a painter and calligrapher from Jiangsu in Yuan dynasty. He is the oldest of the "Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty". After serving as an official he acted as a Taoist priest. He spent his last years in the Fu-ch'un mountains near Hangzhou devoting himself to Taoism.
In art he rejected the landscape conventions of his era's Academy, but is regarded as one of the great literati painters. He had two styles. One was dependent on the use of purple and the other preferred black ink. Like all other Chinese scholar-officials of his era he was also a poet. His most famous work is “Fuchun Shanju Tu” (《富春山居图》, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, c. 1350).
Wu Zhen (1280~1354)
Painter Wu Zhen was one of the “Four Masters of Yuan Dynasty”. He followed the Dong Yuan, Ju Ran school of painting. Following along with trends of the time, Wu's works tended less toward naturalism (ie. painting exactly what the eye sees) and more toward abstraction, focusing on dynamic balance of elements, and personifying nature. From his “Yufu Tu” (《渔父图》, Hermit Fisherman) we can see his style.
Wang Meng (c. 1308~1385)
Wang Meng, a grandson of Zhao Mengfu, was born in Huzhou (now known as Wuxing), Zhejiang. He was the youngest of the “Four Masters in Yuan Dynasty”, and the least famous in his own time. Nevertheless, his style greatly influenced later Chinese Painting. In contrast to the relatively spare style of his compatriots, his ropy brushstrokes piled one on the other to produce masses of texture combined in dense and involved patterns. His most famous works include “Qingbian Yinju Tu” (《青卞隐居图》, Dwelling in the Qingbian Mountains), etc.
Zhu Yuanzhang (1328~1398)
The founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, also known by his reign name "Hung-wu" (literally means "Vast Military"), came from a poor peasant family. He was orphaned at the age of 16 and then entered a Buddhist monastery, but left it in 1352 to join a band of rebels, of which he became leader. By 1382 he had ended Mongol rule and unified all China. His reign was marked by the consolidation of imperial power, agrarian reconstruction, and intimidation of the landed and scholarly elite, a reflection of his commoner roots. Through the case of Hu Wei-yong, the case of Lanyu (Blue Jade), and many times of literary inquisition, Zhu Yuanzhang killed almost all his co-founders of Ming dynasty. After his death, he was buried in Xiaoling Tomb in Nanjing, and was given the posthumous name “Emperor Gao”, which literally means Emperor Tall. As historian Ebrey puts it "Seldom has the course of Chinese history been influenced by a single personality as much as it was by the founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang."
Jinyi Wei (Secret Service of the Ming Emperors)
The Jinyi Wei, literally "Brocade-Clad Guard", was the secret service of the Ming emperors. Originally a 500-man organization set up in 1382 by Emperor Hongwu (Zhu Yuanzhang) to be his personal bodyguards, it was soon entrusted and empowered to watch over his officials. By 1385 they numbered 14,000 and were the emperor's eyes and ears. At their peak, the Jinyi Wei had about 200,000 members. They had the power to bypass judicial procedures and could arrest, imprison and punish without going through due process. By the time of Emperor Yongle control of the Guard was largely in the hands of the eunuchs, who had the ears of the emperors. The Jinyi Wei was disbanded along with the remnants of the Ming Dynasty after the Manchu invasion of China.
The Imperial Examination
The Imperial examinations (科举) in Imperial China determined who among the population would be permitted to enter the state's bureaucracy. The Imperial Examination System in China lasted for 1300 years, from its founding during the Sui Dynasty in 605 to its abolition near the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1905. In the imperial China the examination system and associated methods of recruitment to the central bureaucracy were major mechanisms by which the central government captured and held the loyalty of local-level elites. It also served to maintain cultural unity and consensus on basic values. The Chinese Imperial examination system had international influence throughout East Asia including Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
Wenziyu (Literary Inquisition)
Wenziyu (文字狱, "imprisonment due to writings"), or Literary Inquisition, refers to the persecution of intellectuals for their writings by the authority in Imperial China. Wenziyu flourished during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The persecutions could owe to a single phrase or word, which the ruler considered offensive. Some of these owed to the naming taboo. In a serious case, not only the writer but also his families and relatives would be killed. There were wenziyu before the Ming and Qing dynasties. The poet Su Shi of the Song Dynasty was jailed for several months by the emperor owing to some of his poems. The Ming Dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang, who had a humble beginning, caused many wenziyu. The Qing rulers, who were sensitive to anti-Manchu feelings among the Han Chinese, also carried out many wenziyu, including the so-called "Case of the History of the Ming Dynasty" (明史案) under the reign of Emperor Kangxi in which about 70 were killed and more exiled.
Emperor Xuanzong of Ming (1398~1435)
Emperor Xuanzong of Ming, or the Xuande Emperor, was the emperor of China between 1425-1435. Born Zhu Zhanji, he was emperor Hongxi's son. Comparing with many other emperors of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Zhanji was the active one in his political life. He ordered the 7th expedition of (1431-1433) Zheng He’s voyage. Zhu Zhanji was versed in calligraphy, painting and poetry. He often bestowed his painting to officials, on which he wrote down the name of the official and the date. He managed the Imperial Art Academy by himself, paid a lot to outstanding court painters, and even gave them a “Jinyi Wei” title, so many skilled painters served the court during his reign. The Emperor Xuanzong of Ming ruled over a remarkably peaceful time with no significant external or internal problems. Later historians have considered his reign to be the Ming dynasty's golden age.
Dai Jin (1388~1462)
Dai Jin is noted as the founder of the Zhe school of Ming dynasty painting. He began his life in Hangzhou. Although he studied painting as a boy his initial occupation was carpentry. Later he became known for landscapes and animal paintings. He served as an official for a time but after angering the Emperor he returned to Hangzhou in Zhejiang, Dai specialized in landscape painting, as well as figures and animals. Having extensively imitated paintings of his predecessors, Dai had a good grounding in traditional painting. Meanwhile, he was not restrained by tradition and developed his own style, using easy and smooth strokes. Dai followed in the footsteps of Ma Yuan and Xia Gui of the Southern Song, as well as Li Cheng and Fan Kuan of the Northern Song Dynasty in landscape painting. Dai Jin had many followers inside and outside the court. They were called “Zhe School”.
Wu Wei (1459~1508)
Wu Wei, courtesy name Ci-weng, sobriquet Xiao-xian, was a native of Jiangxia, Hubei. A wanderer in his youth, he was at one time employed as a servant in the home of Qian Xin. Later he developed his talent as a painter. During the reign of the Emperor Xianzong (r. 1465-1488) he received the title of Painter-in-Attendance in the Ren-zhi Hall. The Emperor Xiaozong (r. 1488-1505) gave him a seal which read “First among painters”. His numerous followers became a branch of “Zhe School”, called “Jiangxia School”
Shen Zhou (1427~1509)
Shen Zhou, courtesy name Qinan, was a Chinese painter in Ming Dynasty. Shen Zhou was born into a wealthy family in Xiangcheng in Jiangsu, which allowed him to live the majority of his lives as retired scholar-artists, free of responsibility, and devote his time to artwork, socializing, and monastic contemplation of the natural world around him. Shen Zhou lived at a pivotal point in the history of Chinese painting, and contributed greatly to the artistic tradition of China, founding the new Wu School in Suzhou. He and Wen Zheng-ming were the two most important painters of the Wu School, a group of leading literati artists who lived in the region around Wu-Hsien. Withdrawn from worldly pursuits, Shen Zhou developed a distinctive style of landscape and flower-and-bird painting through careful study of the works of the great Yuan dynasty masters.
Wen Zhengming (1470~1559)
Wen Zhengming was a leading Ming Dynasty painter, calligrapher, and scholar. Born in present-day Suzhou, he was a student of Shen Zhou. Although he was a thorough and diligent student, Wen Zhengming repeatedly failed the national examinations, the third level of civil service examinations. It was not until age 53 that he emerged from his scholarly isolation, receiving the recognition of the court with his appointment to the Hanlin Academy. The most famous member of the second generation of Wu School artists, Wen Zhengming profoundly influenced later painters. He was remarkable for his individuality as well as for the variety and range of his creativity. In technique, Wen Zhengming's paintings range from the highly detailed to the more freely washed. In all his paintings there is a spirit of studied antiquarianism and cautious consideration.
Tang Yin (1470~1523)
Tang Yin was a Chinese scholar, painter, calligraphist, and poet of the Ming Dynasty. Courtesy name Bohu, he was born into the merchant class of Suzhou. Although lacking social standing, he received an excellent education. He was a brilliant student and came first in the provincial examinations in Nanjing, the second stage in the civil service examination ladder. The following year he went to Beijing to sit the national examinations, but he was accused of bribing the servant of one of the chief examiners to give them the examination questions in advance. All parties were jailed, and Tang Yin returned to Suzhou in disgrace, his justifiably high hopes for a distinguished civil service career dashed forever. He began to pursue a life of pleasure and earned a living by selling his paintings. That mode of living brought him into disrepute with a later generation of artist-critics (for example, Dong Qichang) who felt that financial independence was vital to enable an artist to follow his own style and inspiration. While Tang is associated with paintings of feminine beauty, which inherited the Tang tradition of bright colours and elegant carriages, his paintings (especially landscapes) otherwise exhibit the same variety and expression of his peers and reveal a man of both artistic skill and profound insight.
Qiu Ying (1498~1552)
Qiu Ying was a Chinese painter who specialized in the gongbi brush technique. He was born to a peasant family, and studied painting at the Wu School in Suzhou. Though the Wu School encouraged painting in ink washes, Qiu Ying also painted in the green-and-blue style. He painted with the support of wealthy patrons, one of whom was the well-known wealthy collector Xiang Yuanbian. He created images of flowers, gardens, religious subjects, and landscapes in the fashions of the Ming Dynasty. He incorporated different techniques into his paintings. His talent and versatility allowed him to become regarded as one of the Four Masters of the Ming Dynasty with Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, and Tang Yin.
White Spring Vine School
In the mid- to late-Ming, paintings of birds and flowers in the xieyi style rose vigorously; Chen Chun of the mid-Ming and Xu Wei of the late-Ming both pushed xieyi birds and flower painting to new heights - referred to as “White Spring Vine.” Their paintings left significant impact on xieyi birds and flower painting in the Ming and Qing periods. Chen Chun was skilled in poetry, writing, calligraphy and painting, and he was an acclaimed scholar of the Wumen school. His xieyi birds and flowers are delicately composed and refined, portraying common vegetation in the gardens of the literati. The realm achieved was peaceful and tranquil with freestyle brushwork, which was widely appreciated. Succeeding Chen Chun, Xu Wei fundamentally transformed birds and flower painting in the xieyi style. Xu Wei elevated Chinese xieyi birds and flower painting to a realm of adequately expressing powerful inner feelings and bringing the expression of freestyle ink painting to an unprecedented level, thus marking a milestone for the development of Chinese xieyi birds and flower paintings.
Shi Da Fu (Court Officials)
Shi Da Fu (or in English, “Court Officials”) refers to, in general, the literati and intellectuals who served in the bureaucratic system in ancient China. “Shi”, as a social level, appeared early. It included all talented people from folk society, who were usually born into poor family or declining aristocrat, and who had to attach themselves to and serve some rich peers by their talent. This was a group of elites and the Imperial Examination was its basis. Shi Da Fu could be an important role in national or imperial politics, on the other hand, they were also the main creators and inheritors of Chinese culture and art. Shi Da Fu, as a whole, was a representative phenomenon in Chinese civilization.
Chen Hongshou (1599~1652, or 1598~1652)
Born in Zhuji county in Zhejiang province, Chen Hongshou was a painter in Ming dynasty. He was excelled at calligraphy and painting (including landscape, flowers and figure), especially at figure painting. He was a student of Lan Ying, and was hold in high esteem for his painting techniques and thoughts. His figures often showed an exaggerated and even strange style which regarded as being ancient. As famous as another painter Cui Zizhong, they were together called “South Chen North Cui”.
Xixiang Ji (Romance of the West Chamber)
Xixiang Ji, or in English Romance of the West Chamber (sometimes it’s translated as Story of the Western Wing) is one of the most famous Chinese dramatic works. It was written by the Yuan Dynasty playwright Wang Shifu (王实甫), and set during the Tang Dynasty. It is a story of young lovers consummating their love without parental approval, and has been called "China's most popular love comedy" and a "lover's bible". At the same time, some have called it potentially dangerous, as there are stories of readers pining away under its influence. The story of Romance of the West Chamber was first told in a literary Chinese short story written by Yuan Zhen during the Tang Dynasty. This version was called The Story of Yingying, or Yingying's Biography. This version differs from the later play in that Zhang Sheng ultimately breaks from Yingying, and does not ask for her hand in marriage. Despite the unhappy ending, the story was popular with later writers, and recitative works based on it began accumulating in the centuries that followed. Perhaps bowing to popular sentiment, the ending gradually changed to the happy one seen in the play. The examples of the modified version include a drum song by Zhao Lingshi in Song dynasty, an oral performance by Dong Jieyuan of the Jin Dynasty, the Wang Shifu’s drama in Yuan dynasty, Li Rihua and Lu Cai’s in Ming dynasty, and Zhou Gonglu’s version, etc. Wang Shifu's play was closely modeled on this performance and was the most successful one, in which his poem “With clouds the sky turns grey; Yellow blooms pave the way. How bitter blows the western breeze! From north to south fly the wild geese.” was remembered and sung by generations after generations.
Wang Yangming (1472~1529)
Wang Yangming, also known as Wang Shouren, was a Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly regarded as the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox philosophy of Zhu Xi. Wang Yangming’s theory include “The controlling power of the body is the mind. The mind originates the idea, and the nature of the idea is knowledge. Wherever the idea is, we have a thing. There are no principles but those of the mind, and nothing exists apart from the mind.” and “Knowledge implies practice, which will lead to good knowledge.” Wang Yangming had many followers, and people called his theory “Wang Knowledge”.
Matteo Ricci (1552~1610)
Matteo Ricci, Chinese name 利玛窦, was an Italian Jesuit priest. He came to China during the reign of Emperor Wanli of Ming dynasty, and eventually he was welcomed to the academies and gained many influential friendships. He became the court mathematician in Beijing, and made Western developments in mathematics available to the Chinese. He published the first maps of China ever available to the West. For the first time the Chinese had an idea of the distribution of oceans and land masses. He introduced trigonometric and astronomical instruments, and translated the first six books of Euclid into Chinese. He is remembered for his Chinese works on religious and moral topics, as well as works on scientific topics such as the astrolabe, sphere, arithmetic, measure and isoperimetrics. Matteo Ricci was a pioneer of cultural relations between China and the West, and his profound appreciation of Chinese cultural and moral values enabled him to make China known to the West and the West to China. He died in 1610 in Beijing.
Zeng Jing (1568~1650)
Courtesy name Bochen, Zeng Jing was born in Putian county in Fujian province. He was a famous portrait painter at the end of Ming dynasty. After Song dynasty, the figure painting in China, comparing with landscape painting and flower-and-bird painting, had lost its advantages for a long time. In Ming and Qing dynasty, the portrait painting came up. Different from traditional Chinese painters, Zeng Jing was skilled at using light and shade, which was influenced by western painting techniques. It was called "Bochen Style". Zeng Jing’s style was highly praised by his followers.
Giuseppe Castiglione (1688~1766)
Giuseppe Castiglione, S.J. (Chinese name Lang Shining 郎世宁) was an Italian Jesuit Brother, missionary in China, painter at the court of the Emperor. Born in Milan's San Macellino district, Castiglione studied painting in Italy with Carlo Cornara of the renowned Botteghe degli Stampator painting studio. In 1709, he became a Jesuit and in 1715, he went to China as a missionary. His skill as an artist was appreciated by the Emperor Qianlong and Castiglione spent many years painting various subjects. His style was a unique blend of European painting with Chinese subjects and themes. In addition to his demonstrable skill as a painter, he was also in charge of designing the Western-Style Palaces in the imperial gardens of the Old Summer Palace. This prominent Jesuit artist, architect, and missionary died in Beijing.
Jean Denis Attiret (1702~1768)
Jean Denis Attiret (Chinese name Wang Zhicheng王致诚) was a French Jesuit painter and missionary to China. He arrived in China in 1738 and was given the title "Painter to the Emperor" by the Qianlong Emperor. Because the emperor insisted on the use of a Chinese painting methods and styles, Attiret's painting eventually became entirely Chinese in style. His most work is “Shi Jun Tu” (《十骏图》, Ten Horses).
Lgatuis Sickeltart (1708~1780)
Lgatuis Sickeltart (Chinese Name Ai Qimeng 艾启蒙) was a Bohemian Jesuit painter and missionary and arrived in China in 1745. He studied painting from Giuseppe Castiglione, and became a court painter soon. Together with Castiglione and Attiret, etc., Sickeltart used western techniques in Chinese painting, and created a new style, which had influence on the court painting in Qing dynasty.
Six Masters of the Early Qing period
The Six Masters of the early Qing period was a group of major Chinese artists who worked in the 17th and early 18th centuries (Qing dynasty). Also known as orthodox masters, they continued the tradition of the scholar-painter, following the injunctions of the artist-critic Dong Qichang late in the Ming Dynasty. The Six Masters include the flower painter Yun Shouping and the landscapists Wu Li and the Four Wangs: Wang Shimin, Wang Jian, Wang Yuanqi, and Wang Hui. The works of the Six Masters are generally conservative, cautious, subtle, and complex in contrast to the vigorous and vivid painting of their “individualist” contemporaries. On the other hand, their works were far away from nature and real life, which sometimes caused a result of simple and empty.
Haishang Painting School
The Haishang Painting School, (海上画派 Haishang Huapai, or the Shanghai School, or Haipai) was a school of traditional arts in Qing dynasty. In the middle of the 19th century, Shanghai started a period of economic prosperity. Its modernization and rapid social change attracted many artists and also made this city an art market. The Haishang Painting School experienced two phases: the early period included three masters, brother Ren Xiong, Ren Xun and their student Ren Yi; the later period had Wu Changshuo. More or less for economic reason, the Haishang Painting School combined poem, calligraphy, painting, seals, and folk art together, and created a new and more popular style different from the traditional literati painting.
Lingnan School of Painting
Lingnan School of Painting refers to a group of painters whose native were in or near Guangdong province. It was founded in the late Qing period, when the western art entered into this area. “Two Gao One Chen”, that is, Gao Jianfu, Gao Qifeng, Chen Shuren, were its founders. This art school went for painting from nature and learning from the west, but at the same time they kept the basic style of Chinese traditional painting. The Lingnan School of painting has exerted tremendous influence on the painting development of the Lingnan area, so much so that there are still many followers till now.
Zhang Daqian (1901~1984)
Chang Daiqian was one of the best-known Chinese artists of the twentieth century. Born in a family of artists in Sichuan, China, he studied in Kyoto, Japan and returned to establish a successful career selling his paintings in Shanghai. A staunch supporter of the Guomingtang, he left China in 1948 and moved to Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, and then to Carmel, California, before finally settling in Taipei, Taiwan. He once devoted himself to study the ancient Chinese paintings and copied many of them. He also traveled a lot and painted what he found in his landscapes. In his later years, his art became superb and mature, even better than those of his early age.