History of Chinese art


History of Chinese art


Paintings have been of the oldest human activities known in the history and have been used to depict the development of human activities though out the history on human civilization. Painting has also been used as a record of cultural dynamism in the human history together with the development of economic activities as well as the diverse cultures that existed since the time immemorial. Among the famous arts of painting is the Chinese paining which has been used in the relevance of the Chinese complex tradition and norms and their perception towards natural environment. Chinese painting has been focusing much on the diverse environmental features and natural phenomenons’s and have been used in the development of a complete theoretical system due to the unique development and aesthetic nature. However, as compared to the Western painting cultures from the past, which have been focusing on the development much on humanity but have been having a little concern over nature and landscape. However the works of art, both the Western art and the Chinese art, have been done in different ways in the art world and the treasures occupies an extremely important position. As stated by Cong (2010), the two types of civilization depicted from the history two arts of painting have been used in the comparison of human developments. However, comparisons between the differences and similarities can help in the relevance of the human artistic developments. Much of the Chinese artistic painting have been influenced by the Confucius and Taoism culture and religion and have committed itself in the way of Heaven and itself, while the Western paining have been influenced by human ideals of the rings to complete evolution. Chinese painting have been changing over the generation as different rules were in power, as during the Han Dynasty, the painting was focused in human development, but was later transformed to Nature paining over the Tang Dynasty.

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Modeling tools

The Chinese style of painting means a line whereby an artist would describe using his own mind the variety of different lines the unique heart of mountains and rivers. Following the arguments of Cong (2010), the Chinese landscape relies on the painting styles to be adopted in order to bring out clear the characteristics of rocks have been painted differently of the various painting works as well as the variety of the rocks with wrinkles.

The painting in this ancient Chinese society varied from e quality of the color used in the painting where the rich could be distinguished from eh paintings of the poor. Following the arguments of Elkins (2010), one of the best examples of the painting is the Nymph of the Luo River, which had been painted by Gu Kaizhi, one of the painters who are considered the founder of painting in the Chinese history who apart from painting was, a calligrapher painter and a poet.

Following the arguments of Chen and Guo (2012), literal works have also been written linked to the Luo River and one of the Chinese poets, Cao Zhi, have written a poem concerning the painting and have been painted in three copies which were done in the Son Dynasty.History of Chinese art When compared to the western ancient paintings which have been taking the modeling painting to illustrate the Western landscapes. As stated by Fleming and Honour (2005), the lakes and mountains in the Western painting is more fainted and enhanced to fit in the display, indicating a sense of realism, hence making it heavier and closer as compared to the Chinese painting.

Creative ideas

In the Western painting, this is done using the oil, relies on the rich colors, with the subtle light colors expressing a real sense of the natural scenery as an expression of their understanding of the nature and the world. Following the arguments of Hung (2012), the portrayal of the image of the supernatural being is being influenced by the culture of the painter form the western world. While the Western painting of the Supreme Being is much influenced by the cultural understanding of the being, in to Classical Chinese paintings, emphasis is laid in man and heaven. From the works done by Sullivan (1997), one cannot fail to note that Hajime has been linked to nature and the good fortune achievements in the world. History of Chinese artThe ink penetration in the paint depicts the artists’ feelings and knowledge of the life, the nature and the culture.

Methodology of painting Creative ideas

The Chinese paintings were created using different painting materials collected from nature such as sticks stones and brushes made from feathers. Variety of brushes were used in accordance  to the type of work the artist desired to create while the technique of using the brushes  was use d to produce different moods , emotions and feelings which were the core concern of the Chinese painting.History of Chinese art On the other had the ancient western painting especially from the Romans and Greeks was made alongside other works of arts such as music dance and sculptures and the concern of the painting was more oriented to the people’s daily activities.

According to Chen and Guo (2012), much of the painting was done using oil unlike the Chinese who used the ink in their paintings, and painters drew the contents on canvas, boards or thick papers with pigments of oil. Aesthetics and the authenticity of the sense of the objects being draw was the main focus in order to bring the aesthetic taste of the image. Much attention was paid to the shade, perspectives, proportions, light and chroma of the painting in the quest to well depict the reality of artistic effects. History of Chinese art The renaissance period in Europe, after 16th century, marked the period where painting art started to focus on landscaping more that the expression of the economic and social activities of the people.


Back ground considerations

Much of the Chinese painting does not put a lot of value of place in the background of the painting as compared to the western classical oil painting. Following the arguments of Hung (2012), hanging of a branch of the tree one side  while all the other round is a blank space in the Chinese painting could be used to  depict the winter sweets  hence little of the background is given emphasis as compared to the front of the picture.

Hence much of the paper or the material used in the painting is left blank in the Chinese painting since the focus is on the image but with little consideration to the image ground.  When such a picture is compared to Greek painting in the Classical western painting, one can notice how much emphasis have been given to the image and the development of the background, fore ground and the middle ground.

Another distinguished feature between the Chinese painting and the Western painting is the principle of vivid and realism whereby the western world arts painted the background for realism while the Chinese painting avoided such painting in order to bring clearly the theme and show the impressiveness of the picture though brightens.History of Chinese art Considerations of the ground information to the western drawings help in the realization and the reverence of the theme behind the picture as well as simple understanding of the image at a glance. However a slight difference occurs on how the Western painting art uses the color combinations in the art as compared to the Chinese painting, although much of the Chinese painting describes natural phenomenon or nature and this requires plain colors.

The subject matter

In the western artistic painting, the focus was on depiction of humanity and the activities being undertaken as well as emphasis on the ability of humanity to conquer nature. On the contrary, the Chinese artistic paintings mainly focused on nature and the appreciation of the natural phenomenon and their influence to humanity. Following the arguments of Hung (2012), although landscaping had started to shape the paintings of the Chinese arts since the start of Tang Dynasty, still much on the nature was given a lot of emphasis but landscaping became more and more independent.

Flower of the four seasons were much used in the Chinese painting to indicate, the four season, autumns depicted by the chrysanthemum, winter by blossom, spring was indicated using orchid and summer was indicated using lotus.History of Chinese art A painting of the four flowers was contained in the elements of the four Gentlemen or in a decoration of any other artistic material such as modeling or cravings.

The drawings of the pine tree with chrysanthemum indicated the fighting that occurred during the autumns and the violence of the snow men who would brave the cold in order to win the battle the Mayuan Song of Qian Yuan was  an example of the landscape painting used in eulogizing negative seclusions considerations. Many of the painters’ were specialized in drawing or painting specific objects or sceneries and this helped them to perfect in such fields.

However, in the classical Greece painting and the Spartans paining which had specified drawings fro wars, but did not have the meaningful colors as compared to the Chinese. In the ancient Greece, figures were used as the major themes in painting works. As noted by Elkins (2010), much of the painting in the mediaeval generations in the religious paintings used the public as the theme whereby after life and resurrections were indicated in self portraits such as the one used of Saint Bartholomew in flayed skin.

Colors combination and usage

Colors have been used in delivery of different themes and ideas in not only painting but other artistic works that requires depiction of themes and communication of different ideas. However the Chinese have been using different colors in the paining of trees and bushes in the indication of the four seasons and this could be used in the prediction of period the painting was made.

History of Chinese art Use of inks and paints have been used  differently although much use of the ink came after the influence from the Western Asia started to hit the Chinese cultures later in the Song Dynasty through trade and other interactions and also during invasions. Usage of the ink and other water marks have been used in the indication of different ideas  especially in the landscaping which happened in the later years of the Chinese painting although ink and color have been used to supplement each other.

As stated by  Fleming and Honour (2005),  in the Western classical painting use of different colors and the inks especially in the Christianity cultures such as Israel in A.D, used colors for awareness and also for understanding of different Christian phenomenon’s as well as the interpretations of life after death and resurrection.History of Chinese art Hence the use of different colors combinations and blending in the Western classical painting have much a deeper meaning as compared to the Chinese painting whereby the themes should be interpreted using the pictures at first glance. Western painting has been cautious in the painting of images whereby the reverence of image from different dimensions was laid a lot of emphases and this was achieved using different colors.



The western painting and the Chinese painting have differed in varied ways and have had a lot of influence to the contemporary painting and drawing as well as other artistic works in color combinations, subject matter, tools used and also in the representation of different phenomenon among many others. Following the arguments of Elkins (2010), however, much of the painting art have been greatly influence by religion, culture and the politics of Chinese classical societies and the Western oil painting times.


Andrews, J., Shen, K. & Solomon, R. (1998). A century in crisis: modernity and tradition in the art of twentieth-century China. New Yolk: Guggenheim Museum Publisher.

Chen, L. & Guo, L. (2012). Art Heritage Treasures – “The Research on the Colour of Chinese Painting”. International Conference on Convergence Information Technology.19, 229-232

Cong, Z. (2010) Qi Bishi. Center for Chinese Arts journals.2-11

Elkins, J. (2010) Chinese Landscape Painting as Western Art history. Hong Kong:   Hong Kong University Press.

Fleming, J. & Honour, H. (2005). A World History of Art. London: Laurence King Publishing limited.

Hung, W. (2008). Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents. New Yolk: Museum Modern Work Art Publisher.

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Hung, W. (2012). A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture. Reakton Books publisher.

Sullivan, M. (1997).  The Meeting of Eastern and Western Art. Los Angeles: University of California Press.