Lesson 10: Chinese Art

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  • 40 Lessons for only $ 69,50

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  • Video lessons by 40 AI instructors

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  • High-quality texts and thousands of images

  • Study at your own pace

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What You Will Learn:

  • Explore All Art Movements and Periods

    You will learn about all the leading art movements and periods, such as primitive art, ancient Greek art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, Modernism, and contemporary art. There is also a lot of attention to non-Western art, such as Islamic Art, Hindu Art, Chinese Art, Oceanic Art and African Art, and the globalization of the art world.

  • All Famous Artists and Their Masterpieces

    The course covers important artists like Sultan Muhammad, Fan Kuan, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Utagawa Hiroshige, Vincent van Gogh, Ilya Repin, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Banksy and many more, and discusses their most influential works.

  • Cultural and Historical Context

    Our courses also focus on the study of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts in which artworks are created.

  • Various Media and Techniques

    You will explore different art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital art.

Introduction to this course:


Until the beginning of industrialization at the end of the 19th century, China was the world’s largest economy and one of the most significant powers on our planet. With its vast population and a history spanning 3,000 years, it’s no wonder that the country boasts a rich art history. Notably, there has been a remarkable continuity in its cultural tradition, especially in the forms of calligraphy and painting. Even the period under the leadership of Communist Party Chairman Mao couldn’t change this. Of course, both art forms evolved over time, often influenced by the ruling imperial dynasty of the era. These dynasty names also serve as the names of the corresponding art periods in Chinese art history.

Album van schilderkunst en kalligrafie voor Maoshu uit 1606
Image: The “Album of Painting and Calligraphy for Maoshu” from 1606 AD, an album with 14 prints. It is a good example of artwork where the image and calligraphy complement each other, but it is also a beautiful example of Chinese landscape painting. Chinese artists did not paint an exact representation of a landscape; instead, they painted an interpretation. They used the steep limestone mountains in the Chinese landscape as inspiration for their paintings.
Location: This print is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on the east side of Central Park in Manhattan, New York (USA). The 14 prints were donated to this museum in 2015 by Julia and John Curtis from Williamsburg, USA.

Chinese Painting and Calligraphy

In Chinese painting, the focus was not on accurately depicting people and landscapes; quite the opposite. The brushwork of the painter was highly valued. The more skillful the brushwork, the more the artist’s paintings were appreciated. The appreciation for the craftsmanship of a Chinese artist was always taken into account when evaluating an art object.

The Chinese word for landscape is “shan shui,” which means mountain and water

The famous landscape paintings are not faithful representations of landscapes but rather interpretations by the artists, although they drew inspiration from the limestone mountains in the Chinese landscape, as you can often see. Nevertheless, you can spend hours looking at a Chinese landscape painting and enjoy it. You constantly discover something new in them, and they are like painted poems.

Reizigers tussen bergen en beekjes, van Fan Kuan uit de periode 1000 tot 1020
Image: “Travelers Among Mountains and Streams” by Fan Kuan, from the period 1000 to 1020 AD, during the Song Dynasty. The Chinese artist Fan Kuan painted shan shui landscapes in the so-called northern landscape style. He is considered one of the greatest painters of all time.
Location: This landscape painting by Fan Kuan is displayed in the National Palace Museum, located in Waishuanxi, a suburb of the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

For centuries, painting and calligraphy were highly valued by the Chinese intelligentsia. There was hardly a Chinese person who did not consider themselves a connoisseur of these arts, although one had to be able to read to appreciate calligraphy, which meant that only a minority of the population understood the texts. The Chinese word for landscape is “shan shui,” which means “mountain and water” in English. It’s no wonder that these are the primary elements in a Chinese landscape painting. Keep in mind that even the calmest flowing water ultimately erodes the largest mountain, symbolizing the continuous changes in the landscape and in our lives. 

Een Chinees schilderij met de titel Landschap, uit circa 1860-1880, met kalligrafie in de linkerbovenhoek. Het schilderij is een goed voorbeeld van een Chinese landschapsschildering. Het Chinese woord voor landschap is  shānshui en betekend `berg en water’. Vandaar dat u vaak veel water en bergen in Chinese schilderijen terugvindt, zoals ook op dit schilderij.
De kunstenaar is onbekend. Het werk werd in 1915 aangeschaft door Henry Walters (1848-1931).
Locatie: Dit Chinese landschapsschilderij hangt in het Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, in de staat Maryland in de VS.
Image: A Chinese painting titled “Landscape,” from circa 1860-1880, with calligraphy in the upper left corner. The painting is a good example of Chinese landscape painting. The Chinese word for landscape is “shānshui,” which means “mountain and water.” That’s why you often find a lot of water and mountains in Chinese paintings, as you do in this painting. The artist is unknown. The work was acquired in 1915 by Henry Walters (1848-1931).
Location: This Chinese landscape painting is housed in the Walters Art Museum, an art museum in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

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