History of Chinese Landscape Paintings


Landscape paintings were developed and changed through many centuries of evolved painting styles. First, it began with the ancient Greeks and their tinted walls, and then further expanded to backdrops of scenes from religious stories. Landscape art captures natural scenery, with the main subject set up in a wide set view and the remaining elements arranged into a coherent composition. Mountains, valleys, trees, lakes, rivers, forests and other beautiful natural habitats are what typically make up the natural scenery in landscape paintings and frequently, the sky and weather is taken into consideration with the scenery of landscape paintings.

Chinese-Landkcape-Paintings

Landscape views can be entirely imaginary or they can be copied from reality. The landscape paintings that are actually based on a real place, with varying degrees of accuracy, have what is called a topographical view. China’s landscape paintings have been called the greatest contribution to the art of the world. The Chinese style generally showed only a distant view, or used dead ground or mist to avoid that difficulty. Chinese art traditions usually depict grand panoramas of imaginary landscapes. The imaginary landscapes usually feature a range of spectacular mountains and waterfalls. These were frequently used, as in the example illustrated, to bridge the gap between a foreground scene with figures and a distant panoramic vista, a persistent problem for landscape artists.

Tang Dynasty

When viewing Chinese landscape paintings, it is clear that Chinese depictions of nature are seldom mere representations of the external world but they go much further beyond that. They are expressions of the mind and heart of the individual artists who create the landscapes, encompassing all that embodies the culture and cultivation of their masters, and potentially even specific social, philosophical, or political convictions. These concepts initially came to be in the late Tang dynasty.

During the Song dynasty, landscape paintings became metaphors for the well-regulated state. With the introduction of a new style of calligraphic brushwork for self-expressive ends, the monochrome visuals of old trees, bamboo, rocks, and retirement retreats, which were created by these scholar-artists became emblems of their own character and spirit.

During the Yuan dynasty, landscape paintings were often seen as an extension of the artist himself, depictions of such places often served to express the values of their owner. The Yuan dynasty also witnessed a second kind of cultivated landscape, “the mind landscape.” These landscape paintings went beyond representation and incorporated personal feelings with select antique styles to relay the inner workings of the artists heard and mind.

The Ming dynasty is when native Chinese rule was restored and court artists were able to produce conservative images which revived the Song dynasty metaphor for the state, as a well-ordered imperial garden.

Images of nature are always a source of inspiration for artists in landscape paintings, even to the present day. While Chinese landscape paintings have been transformed by millennia of human occupation, the Chinese artistic expression is still deeply imprinted with depictions of the natural world.

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