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Chinese Paintings

Unlike Western painting, Chinese painting is most commonly made with water-based ink on paper or silk rather than acrylic or oil on canvas. The ancient Chinese art of painting began on cave walls in the Neolithic period and later emerged as ink and wash painting during the Tang dynasty.

Ancient paintings usually feature stylized or abstracted people, literary scenes, and landscapes with special attention to blank or negative space. Paintings are traditionally either mounted onto a hanging scroll, a hand scroll, a standing screen, sliding screens, and walls. Early Chinese paintings were also mostly ornamental. It wasn’t until 475-221 B.C. that Chinese painters began painting representationally.

By 206 B.C.. painters were mostly depicted their ancestors on silk banners, tomb walls, or lacquerware. These ancestral portraits were created in order to protect the dead and to guide them into the afterlife. Over time, Chinese painters began to favor landscape ink and wash paintings as the ideal and purest form of painting. To this day, the minimalist and stylized expressionist style of Chinese landscape painting has been preserved.


Quick Facts

  • During the New Culture Movement in the 1900s, Chinese painters began experimenting with Western mediums like oil paint. Oil paints in Chinese culture emerged from the arrival of Western missionaries during the 17th century
  • Traditionally, Chinese painting was taught under an apprenticeship where a student was not only encouraged but required to copy a master’s painting with precision in order to learn the accurate rendering of objects
  • The significance of Chinese painting lies not only in the image but also in the quality and handling of the brush, the quality of the paper or silk, the grinding of the ink, and the gesture of the brushstrokes

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Sellers Who Sell Chinese Paintings


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

Yakon Auctions

Yakon Auctions

Mega International Auction Inc.

Mega International Auction Inc.