Since the beginning of time, humans have utilized countless of mediums to represent and record history. Not only have humans taken to writing history, they have also painted and sculpted it. China, is for this context, well known for its masters of painting, which through their art they have portrayed their environments as seen through their eyes and thoughts. Many famous painters have used their unique techniques to capture a range of landscapes and quotidian experiences. From the scenic mountain ranges, to rivers, flowers, and animals alike, different cultures have depicted it all with their own style.
Chinese history is rich in art, thus this task of compiling the top five most famous paintings throughout Chinese history was no easy feat. Here they are, and the incredibly skilled artists behind them.
1. Along the River During the Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan
The Painting of Along the River During the Qingming Festival, is the creative work of Zhang Zeduan of Northern Song Dynasty. This painting is found in the palace museum as a national treasure in the Beijing City. The 528.7cm by 24.8cm scroll represents economic activities in urban and countryside areas. People of all ranks and their daily lives from the city of Bianjing during Qingming Festival which occurred in the Northern Song Dynasty are captured in this painting as well. The painting has three parts; a spring in the countryside, an eventful Bianhe River Ports, and the thriving city streets.
2.Emperor Taizong Receiving the Tibetan Envoy by Yan Liben
The work of painter Yan Liben made its mark in history.The beautiful Painting of Emperor Taizong Receiving the Tibetan Envoy, was carefully done on silk. He existed in the primary years of the Tang Dynasty running from 618 to 907. His work is an integration of history and artistic techniques and is found in the palace Museum, Beijing. The 129.6cm by 38.5cm painting portrays the friendly interaction between the Tang dynasty and Turbo in 641. On the tough silk painting, the emperor is seen sitting on a sedan peacefully, while he is surrounded by maids with fans and one with a red canopy. An official in the royal court is seen on left and is in red. The emperor is held in an awe by the envoy. The person on the left in white, is an interpreter for the envoy.
3. Nymph of the Luo River by Gu Kaizhi
The painting work of Gu Kaizhi of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, from 317-420, the Nymph of the Luo River has been famously revered. The famous painting is an illustration of a romance poem by Caro Zhi from the state Wei of the three Kingdoms Period. It was collected and preserved by the Palace Museum, Beijing. It narrates the meeting and the breakup of Cao Zhi and the Nymph of the Luo River. In the painting, Tension is captured through collection of figures such as trees, stone as well as mountains. The genesis of landscape Chinese painting development is represented by this scroll of painting.
4. The Noble Ladies In Tang Dynasty by Zhang Xuan & Zhou Fang
The Noble Ladies In Tang Dynasty Painting. The skilled duo, Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang, were amongst the most recognized painters during the Tang Dynasty. The serial paintings depict the lonely life of ladies at a court where they are only taught to be beautiful and graceful. Thus showing the disparity in gender roles, and truly depicted how life for the noblewomen was like. These paintings are found in a vast array of museum nationwide.
5. Five Oxen by Han Huang
Lastly, we explore the painting of Five Oxen. The work of painter Han Huang who was also a prime minster in the Tang Dynasty. The 139.8cm by 20.8cm painting scroll depicts five well fed oxen in various postures and coloration. The oxen display the spirit of willingness to endure hard labor without complaints. A vast array of brushstrokes are utilized in the drawing and it can be found in the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Chinese paintings are of global historical importance as they display some of longest practiced artistic traditions. With such an ancient history and culture, these famous paintings have helped historians get a closer look at the varying points in time.