Read literati paintings in the history of Chinese art in one breath

(1) The originator of literati painting – Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei

In ancient China, there was an all-talented pastoral poet in the Tang Dynasty, who created many classic poems passed down through the ages, such as “the desert is lonely and the smoke is straight, the river is falling yen”, “The bright moon is shining among the pines, the clear spring stone is flowing”, “The man is idle and the osmanthus flowers are falling, the night is quiet and the spring mountains are empty” and other poems are passed down through the ages.

Su Shi, a scholar in Song Dynasty, spoke highly of him, “there are poems in his paintings, and there are paintings in his poems.” In Wang Wei’s idyllic poems, you can appreciate the sense of poetic painting.

He was Wang Wei, a famous pastoral poet in the Tang Dynasty.

However, do not think that Wang Wei is only a poet proficient in poetry creation, pastoral poet Wang Wei, like the Renaissance genius giant Da Vinci in the history of western art, is a comprehensive talent, Wang Wei not only proficient in the creation of pastoral poetry, but also proficient in painting, calligraphy, rhythm.

For the Tang Dynasty poet Wang Wei, his artistic achievements in painting and calligraphy have a profound impact on the later generations, no less than his achievements in poetry creation.

Why is Wang Wei’s achievement in painting and calligraphy indispensable? Presumably, Wang Wei’s painting and calligraphy works, compared with the painting works of the Tang Dynasty in the same period, contain many breakthroughs and innovations.

Next, let’s first enjoy the Tang Dynasty painters, court painter Zhou Fang’s work “Ladies Wearing Flowers” and Wang Wei’s work “Fu Sheng teaching Sutra”.

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Zhou Fang’s “Beautiful Women Wearing Flowers” and Wang Wei’s “Fusheng Teaching Sutra”

In the Tang Dynasty, although many classic palace paintings with historical themes emerged, such as Bunin Tu and Gonggong Tu by the court painter Yan Liben, after the reign of Emperor Xuanzong, due to the gradual decline of national power, there were few paintings with major historical themes. Painters began to turn their painting perspective to the life of court women in the palace, such as Zhou Fang’s painting of Ladies Wearing Flowers. It is to depict the leisurely life of court women, and Wang Wei’s work “Fu Sheng teaching Scripture” depicts a hardworking gentleman, tirelessly imparts knowledge and knowledge to students.

So, what is the difference between Wang Wei’s work Fu Sheng Teaching the Scriptures and Zhou Fang’s work?

  1. In terms of materials for creation, since the painter Zhou Fang was a court painter in ancient China, just like the court painters in the art history of the West, he had no freedom to paint at all. Court painters had to cater to the aesthetic taste of the royal family when painting, while court painters had to paint for the emperor and the nobility to record major historical events and the life of the court nobility with their brushes.

For example, Zhou Fang’s painting “Ladies Wearing Flowers” depicts the leisurely and comfortable life of court women, while Wang Wei’s painting “Fu Sheng Teaching Suejing”, in which the old gentleman tirelessly and patiently imparts knowledge and knowledge, is the inspiration of the painter Wang Wei himself.

Since the First Emperor of Qin burned the books and buried the scholars, Fusheng relied on the knowledge and knowledge in his memory to record it bit by bit and pass it on to future generations. Painter Wang Wei felt that it was of great significance to use the brush to record Fusheng’s teaching of knowledge, so he began to create his paintings. Therefore, compared with the court painters, Wang Wei created his paintings freely and without any constraints.

  1. From the point of view of the colors of the two paintings, the ladies painted by Zhou Fang are richly colored, and vermilion color is the main color of the picture, rendering opulence and splendor, fully displaying the luxury and wealth style of the court. While the Fu Sheng sitting cross-handed in Wang Wei’s brush only uses ink to separate colorful colors, not rich and gorgeous colors, but only uses ink to create a light and elegant atmosphere for the future literati painting to be simple. The simple and elegant artistic conception provides the foundation.

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Zhou Fang’s Painting of Ladies Wearing Flowers and Wang Wei’s Painting of Fusheng Teaching Sutra

3 From the perspective of the figures in the two paintings, under Zhou Fang’s brush, the court women who pick flowers, or film butterflies, or play dogs, or admire cranes, their facial skin has been dyed into delicate and plump skin by the painter’s rigorous and meticulous brushwork. Their clothes are gauchy, like that of an elegant woman, which fully reveals the plump and rich taste of a court lady, the softness of a thin and smooth body, and the richness and elegance of a rich and graceful woman.

The Fu Sheng under Wang Wei’s painting brush, sitting cross-legged on the futon, a bony image, not as beautiful as the court women’s costumes in Zhou Fang’s paintings, nor as noble as the emperor and general in the court paintings, but it shows the temperament of a scholar.

Wang Wei, a poet and painter, is the originator of literati painting in the history of Chinese art. Because Wang Wei’s paintings are free and free from the constraints of the creation of courtyard paintings, the simple, simple and simple artistic conception in his paintings have paved the way for the techniques, ideas, expression methods and artistic conception of literati painting in the future, so Wang Wei is a pioneer painter of literati painting.

(2) The difference between literati painting and palace painting

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Zhang Xuan, Madame Guo on a Spring Excursion, Zhao Mengjian, Mo LAN Scroll

  1. From the theme of creation

In popular terms, the court style paintings were created for the royal palace and nobles, and naturally drew from the daily life of the court nobles, such as the paintings of Lady Guo State on a spring outing, the Painting of Ramming and the Painting of Ladies Wearing Flowers, or used brushes to record major historical events, such as the paintings of Official Tributes and Bunian Paintings, or painted portraits of emperors and generals, such as the Pictures of Emperors of All Dynasties.

The creation of literati painting, because the creation of literati painters, is not restricted by the royal family like the court painters, so the creation of materials are free, most of the literati painters do not paint the life of the court emperor and aristocrats, but prefer to create with the plum blossom, orchid, bamboo in nature.

2 From the expression style, techniques, creative ideas

The palace style painting, just like the orthodox painting of the academy in the history of western art, advocates the likeness and rigorous method. For example, the Western academy oil painting requires the painter to follow the strict method, have a strong realistic skill, and depict the objects and images in a fine and neat manner.

The flower-and-bird painting works of the painters Huang Quan and his son in the Five Dynasties represent the requirements of the palace style painting and the aesthetic fashion of the court aristocracy. The flowers and birds painted by the Huang Quan and his son are sketched and colorful, paying attention to fine, rigorous and delicate painting style. The rare birds painted by the Huang Quan and his son have been sketched and filled with colors, detailed to the physical characteristics and organizational structure of each bird. Feathers, scales and nails are depicted rigorously and accurately, which shows that the court painters pay special attention to the shape and texture of the picture, the vivid and vivid image, and the precise portrayal.

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Palace style painters must create in accordance with the requirements and laws of the court, and can not exceed the bounds of half a step, so the palace style painting will inevitably limit the painter’s thought and personality, and the palace style painting will inevitably flow into the dead end of stereotyped, soft and mediocre.

The literati painters, because they are not bound by the rules and regulations of the court style paintings, so the literati painters are free in terms of their creative materials, expression methods and creative ideas.

For the palace style painters, because of the requirements and laws of the palace painting academy, the painting creation dare not exceed the Lei Ji half step, and the literati painters, since Wang Wei, have been advocating random painting, unrestricted painting, so the literati painters are not as focused on the realistic skills as the court style painters.

As for literati painting, it is a way for scholars to amuse themselves and express themselves, breaking through the requirements of the style of the academy painting. Literati painting is a brushwork in which painters express their subjective feelings by means of pen and ink, and express their feelings by means of objects and scenes.

For example, Wen Tong painted bamboo, not for the purpose of painting bamboo and painting bamboo, is to give affection to ink bamboo, the bamboo personification, Wen Tong painted bamboo, the ink bamboo under the brush, symbolizing the noble integrity of the literati, as Su Shi said: “gentleman can imply things”, just express the literati painting, its transcendent thought.

The above three Chinese paintings, one is the palace style painter Huang Quan’s painting of Rare Birds, one is his son Huang Jucai’s painting of Mountain Finch, and one is the great writer Su Shi’s painting of Bamboo and Stone Scroll. Can you tell which one is the literati painting and which one is the palace style painting?

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Zhao Chang, “Axis of the Year”, Yang Wouju, “Simei Scroll”, Muxi, “Sunset Picture of Fishing Village”.

3 From the screen color

Palace style painting, the general picture color, showing the palace opulence, luxuriant and gorgeous aesthetic fashion, such as the Song Dynasty court painter Zhao Chang’s work “Year Chao Map Axis”, the painter with fine brushwork, color bold use of red, green contrast strong contrast, to create a rich and gorgeous court color effect, everywhere distributed the palace gorgeous fragrance.

Since the rise of literati painting, have you found that the rich and colorful colors of Chinese painting have been gradually replaced by plain ink painting?

In the Tang Dynasty, many colorful Chinese paintings emerged, such as the Ming Emperor’s Map of Sichuan, the green landscape paintings of Li Sixun and his son, and the Jinbi landscape paintings, but the literati paintings, usually do not have rich and bright colors, and usually use ink instead of colorful colors.

However, under the brush of literati painters, the ink is divided into five colors, such as light ink, thick ink, wet ink and dry ink to express the rich level of the picture, just as the ink bamboo under the pen of literati painter Wen Tong painting, deep ink for the side and light ink for the back.

Literati painting, the pursuit of pen and ink interest, the pursuit of the subjective artistic conception created by the painter, literati painting, the reason why the ink replaces the gorgeous rich colors, just as the five colors are growing old and mature, is to create a plain, both carved and polished, return to the simple.

Even though the literati painters Qian Xuan, Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin, Zhao Mengfu «–¯, Huang Gongwang, Wang Meng and other painters revived the use of color in painting creation, but more elegant and light colors, slightly Danzhu, put an end to colorful and rich

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Ink Bamboo Drawing by Wen Tong

(3) The history of literati painting

As for literati painting, it developed into the mainstream of painting in the Yuan Dynasty. However, the originator of literati painting was the Tang Dynasty painter Wang Wei. After Su Shi, the trend of literati painting highly praised by Wen Tong formed the mainstream of literati painting in the Yuan Dynasty.

However, in the late Northern Song Dynasty, with the vigorous advocacy of Su Shi, Mi Fu and Wen Tong, literati painting has already formed an artistic trend of thought.

The literati painting in Song Dynasty had a profound influence on the development of literati painting in Yuan Dynasty.

1 Song Dynasty literati paintings

The literati painters in the Song Dynasty included Su Shi, Wen Tong, Mi Fu, Mu Xi, Zheng Sixiao and so on.

Among them, Su Shi’s work “Dead wood Strange Stone Map”, its painting of literati painting expression techniques, ideological style, deeply influenced the development of later literati painting.

Su Shi’s famous saying: “On the likeness of the painting, see and children’s neighbors”, fully shows that the painter Su Shi, is extremely opposed to the likeness, rigorous, delicate and exquisite style of the courtyard painting, the pursuit of subjective interest in painting, not seeking likeness, to express feelings, express literati cultivation and character, not seeking likeness, express feelings, meaning lyrical.

Just like the dead wood under the brush of Su Shi, the attitude of Qiu qiu, such as tenacious struggle, the imposing body, seems to break through the painting, the strange stone under the brush of Su Shi, spiraling like a vortex, a strong sense of movement, burst out the indomitable vitality, the dead wood and strange stone under the brush of Su Shi, everywhere radiates the uneven gas of Su Shi’s heart, just like the pursuit of “the meaning of the image outside” of the literati painting advocated by him. Devote oneself to the dead wood strange stone, show oneself open-minded, bold true temperament.

The gloomy and desolate artistic conception in the painting profoundly affected the artistic conception of later literati painting.

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Su Shi’s “Dead Wood and Strange Rocks”

Mi Fu and his son are famous literati painters in the Song Dynasty. The Mi family landscape paintings created by Mi Fu and his son have unique artistic characteristics and have far-reaching influence on the development of literati paintings in later generations.

In Mi Youren’s work “Xiaoxiang Wonder Map”, is a model of meters point landscape works.

In the green landscape works of the Tang Dynasty, the traditional form of drawing lines and filling in colors is usually used to create landscape paintings, but the reason why the landscape paintings of Mi Jia have unique artistic characteristics, such as the landscape expression style of Mi Youren’s brush, which changes the painting techniques of drawing lines and filling in colors since the Tang and Song dynasties, not only replaces the cumbersome colors of green landscape with colorless ink. The use of ink to separate colorless shade changes, create clouds dense, fog rising artistic conception.

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Li Zhaodao’s Map of the Ming Emperor’s Happiness in Sichuan and Mi Youren’s Picture of the Wonders of Xiaoxiang

Painter Mi Youren, breaking through the line to fill the constraints of the shape, ink rendering, creating clouds and smoke ethereal artistic conception, distant mountains hidden in the light ink, or thick lines outline, and then rendering with large strokes, this massive rendering, ink fusion, create a picture of magnificent momentum, clouds and mist-shrouded, boundless artistic conception.

Do you find that compared with the green landscape painting of the Tang Dynasty, the style of landscape painting, the freehand style of large-scale ink rendering, appears more simple and light atmosphere, with one as ten, with simple and complex, with less than more, laying the foundation for the development of later literati painting.

2 Yuan Dynasty literati painting

Why did literati painting develop into the mainstream of painting in the Yuan Dynasty? There are the following reasons

First of all, because after the collapse of the Southern Song Dynasty, the painting academy, which was engaged in the creation of palace style paintings, gradually declined due to the change of ownership, and the literati painters who retired to the mountains and forests naturally became the mainstream painters in the creation of painting art.

Secondly, due to the dissolution of the imperial Academy of Painting in the Yuan Dynasty, painters were no longer bound by the academy in creating paintings. Therefore, the creation of paintings was arbitrary and free, and its creative techniques, creative ideas and expression styles were all created freely by the painters themselves.

The most important thing is that in the Yuan Dynasty, the rulers did not pay attention to the development of culture and art, and many frustrated literati chose to retreat to the mountains and forests, and the seclusion of literati became a common phenomenon in the society at that time. The frustrated literati and literati officials freely expressed their subjective interests in the world of calligraphy and painting art, swimming in the free art of calligraphy and painting between mountains and rivers.

Speaking of literati painters in the Yuan Dynasty, we have to mention Ni Yunlin, one of the four painters in the Yuan Dynasty.

An Chu Zhai Map by Ni Zan

It is not difficult to find that the landscape painting works of the painter Ni Zan show the artistic conception of simple, simple, elegant and desolate. The classic works handed down by the painter Ni Zan are the model of literati painting.

For the landscape painting works of the painter Ni Zan, it is not difficult to find that the composition of the picture is usually a fixed three-stage stylized composition, a few dead trees in the near scene, the white river with no ink in the middle scene, and the distant mountains in the distant vista.

In Ni Zan’s stylized composition of “Two banks of a river”, there is usually a solitary pavilion with no human connection beside a few sparse trees in the close view. The solitary pavilion in the painting is the painting eye of Ni Zan to express the spiritual sustence in the picture.

Lonely pavilion, empty on all sides, for people to rest, but it is not the ultimate destination of human beings, let alone the ultimate destination of human spiritual sustentation.

The lonely pavilion in the painting is the painter Ni Zan’s expression of affection for things, like the outside meaning of the lonely pavilion, is the painter’s inner wandering, lonely and lonely mood.

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Ni Zan’s Rong Xizhai, Zizhi Mountain House Axis, Jiangting Mountain Color Map

Painter Ni Zan, young life is rich and superior, develop a lofty and proud, clean life attitude, read poetry all day long, do not ask the world, but helpless family fall, old age has no place to rely on, deeply drifting the end of the world suffering.

Therefore, artists often paint solitary pavilions in their painting creation, implying that a person’s life is like a solitary pavilion, where he lives without a permanent home and is alone in the vast and empty universe. Although Ni Zan’s works are not as magnificent as the panoramic landscape of the Northern Song Dynasty, the painter views the whole universe in his paintings with his own lonely destiny of drifting and having no support. The fate and destination of mankind as a whole.

In Ni Zan’s works, the lonely, empty, desolate and depressed no one’s land shows the prosperity of the end, all things, all sounds return to the quiet mood, in Ni Zan’s painting no one’s land shows the quiet mood of the literati painting.

Yunshan Scroll by Mi Youren in Song Dynasty and Anshuzhai Map by Ni Zan in Yuan Dynasty

Do you find that the literati painting of the Yuan Dynasty, compared with the Song Dynasty, pays more attention to the literature department of the work, poetic painting, the poetry in the Yuan Dynasty landscape painting, compared with the poetry in the Song Dynasty literati painting, accounts for a large proportion of the picture, as many as hundreds of crosses and dozens of lines, in order to completely highlight the poetic painting of the picture.

So the ancient literati painter is a collection of poetry, painting, calligraphy body and three all-rounder painter.

3 Literati paintings of Ming Dynasty

In the works of the literati painter Ni Zan in the Yuan Dynasty, in the painting world of careless brush and precious ink, it shows the cold and quiet, indifferent and quiet, and no one’s artistic conception.

However, when appreciating the Chinese painting works of Wen Zhengming, a literati painter of Ming Dynasty, it is not difficult to find that in the works of Pine Sound on a Bed, Maulin Clear Spring, Lin Xie Decoction Tea, and Xiting Guest Talk, Wen Zhengming restores the depiction of characters in the creation of landscape painting, compared with the empty, cold and lonely land of no one in Ni Zan’s paintings, Wen Zhengming restores the depiction of characters in the creation of landscape painting. Add a trace of human fireworks gas, in the magnificent momentum of the vast natural mountains and rivers, the characters appear small, to achieve the unity of heaven and man, the realm of things and I.

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Wen Zhengming’s “Lin Xie Decocting Tea Map”, “Xiting Dialect Map Axis”, “Forest Qingquan Map”

In the Yuan Dynasty, the painter Ni Zan painted empty landscapes, while in the Ming Dynasty, literati paintings, such as those of the painter Wen Zhengming, mostly used brushes to depict the painter’s most intuitive spiritual feelings at the moment. He often created scenes in life, such as meeting friends, drinking tea, boating, and farewell.

For example, in the work “East Garden Scroll”, the painter describes the activity scenes of various literati, or enjoy painting and calligraphy, or sip tea and play the piano, or feast and play chess, fully expressing the comfortable life of literati in seclusion.

Compared with the paintings of Ni Zan, the literati painter of the Yuan Dynasty, whose light ink is elegant, simple and simple, the literati paintings of the Ming Dynasty developed into the improvisation of painters, such as the painter Wen Zhengming, the painting creation pays attention to the most direct way of improvisation at present, painting the opportunity to feel their own soul in real life.

Although in Wen Zhengming’s paintings, the depiction of characters is restored and the liveliness of the picture is emphasized, but in Ming Dynasty literati paintings, including Wen Zhengming’s paintings, the picture still continues the Yuan Dynasty literati paintings, such as the “static air” in Ni Zan’s Chinese painting.

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Dongyuan Scroll by Wen Zhengming

For the pursuit of “static air” in literati paintings, it is not simply the pursuit of the quiet external environment, nor is it simply the pursuit of spiritual tranquility, but the pursuit of a transcendental tranquility, eliminating all the shackles of the soul, and winning the peace and tranquility of the heart.

Just like Wen Zhengming’s work “True Appreciation of Zhai”, the painter uses vigorous and steady brushstrokes to create a world without hidden, to remove the changing factors of time, like a static world, to create an unchanging silence, beyond the reality of the world full of static air.

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Wen Zhengming’s “True Appreciation of Zhai”

4 Literati paintings of Qing Dynasty

In the works of the literati painter Ni Zan in the Yuan Dynasty, his land of no one is always showing the static air that the picture is not stained with a trace of human wind and dust. In the Ming Dynasty literati painter, Wen Zhengming continued to develop the “static air” in the literati painting works.

But to the Qing Dynasty literati painting works, such as the Qing dynasty literati painter Shi Tao’s Chinese painting works, but have a different flavor.

Literati painting, the pursuit of quiet air, since many literati officials after the seclusion, pay more attention to the literati painting to express the painter’s own away from the world, the pursuit of inner quiet and indifferent to the quiet air, as the painter Nantian once said, painting to the magic place, there must be quiet air, the painter Ni Yunlin, in the painting all the time to pursue no human fireworks of quiet air.

However, in the works of literati painter Shi Tao in the Qing Dynasty, it is not difficult to find that the mountains shaped by Shi Tao’s brush are full of restless and bold brushstrokes, which are completely different from the static air pursued by literati painting.

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As for the painter Shi Tao, he is an innovative literati painter, breaking through the resemblance, breaking through the method, breaking through the static air that literati painting has always been.

According to theory, the restless atmosphere of Shi Tao’s brush is not in line with the artistic conception of literati painting, but if you look closely, the artistic conception of Shi Tao’s works is the pursuit of static atmosphere in the rotation of agitation.

Such as the work “Jinshan Longyou Temple Album”, the mountain with dry brush swept a consistent trend, creating the momentum of the picture flying, while the river is left white, only a leaf boat, boating on the lake, creating a quiet mood.

The painter Shi Tao, the brushwork in the painting of the restless gas, flying lively heroic, is the painter’s painting creation, the true reveal of the true temperament, directly express the spirit.

The restlessness in the artist’s works is reflected in the restlessness of the pen and ink, and also in the grotesque style of the picture. In the work “One of the Mountains and Rivers”, the artist painted the grotesque shapes of peaks and grotesque rocks like five fingers, creating a millennium strange eternal peace.

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For the painter Shi Tao, the restlessness in his landscape painting is not only reflected in his restless strokes and grotesque shapes, but also reflected in his breakthrough and innovation of colors in literati paintings.

For literati painting, such as Wang Wei, Ni Zan, Su Shi, Dong Qichang, Mi Fu, Xu Wei’s literati painting works, the ink is colorless, or light and easy color, to create a picture of elegant, noble, simple mood.

However, the color of Shi Tao’s brush has broken through the literati painting, only using the simple and elegant artistic conception of ink and wash. The flowers under Shi Tao’s brush show the rich colors and the decoration style of heavy makeup.

The painter Shi Tao did not follow Ni Yunlin, whose painting style is simple, sparse, cold and cold. Shi Tao’s flower freehand works transcend the world of colors. The calm colors show no kitsch and mediocre craftsmanship. The colors in his works are the colors of the painter’s spirit, rather than the colors of objective depiction.

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From the development and transformation of literati painting, do you find that in each era, the literati painting school of painting, the works present different styles, different artistic conception, different thoughts of change.

Ming Dynasty painter Dong Qichang, put forward the “North and South Zong theory”, the north is focused on the ability, rules, laws of the courtyard painting, the south is focused on the nature, charm, personality of the literati painting, Wang Wei is the ancestor of the South.

In Dong Qichang’s “North and South Zong Theory”, it can be seen that Dong Qichang especially respected the art of literati painting and advocated the implicit, ethereal and peaceful mood created in literati painting. Its naive, quiet, simple and natural realm added dazzling, brilliance and brilliance to the art of Chinese painting in the history of Chinese art. Literati painting art occupies a decisive artistic position.

Literati painting art, to us a fresh and elegant, aloof from the world, quiet, peaceful painting world.

Reference materials:

  1. A History of Chinese Art Written for Everyone, Jiang Xun
  2. Sixteen Views on Southern Painting, Zhu Liangzhi
  3. Outline of Chinese Art History, Huang Zongxian

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