The Differences between Chinese Painting and Traditional Chinese Painting

Last editing time 2016-05-17 15:44:02
Chinese Painting refers to paintings that are created by Chinese people, including traditional Chinese painting, oil painting, watercolor and other forms of painting. The following is a brief introduction to the traditional Chinese painting.

Traditional Chinese painting has a long history. Paintings on silk were found as early as the Warring States period, which is more than 2000 years ago. Traditional Chinese painting got its official name in Han Dynasty, about 1800 to 2200 years ago. At that time, people thought that China was in the middle of the universe. So they called their country “Zhongguo” in Chinese, which means the country in the center. In this way, paintings created by Chinese people were called “zhongguo painting” (paintings of the central country), and “guo painting” (national painting) for short, which is now known as “traditional Chinese painting”. Traditional Chinese painting mainly refers to scroll paintings that are painted on Chinese art paper (or Xuan Paper) or all kinds of silks with brushes that is dipped with water, ink and pigments. The tools and materials for traditional Chinese paintings are brushes, ink, pigments for Chinese paintings and so on. Its subjects include figures, landscapes, flowers and birds, and others. According to the techniques, traditional Chinese paintings can be divided into fine brushworks and freehand brushworks.

Fine brushworks were popular in Tang Dynasty, which is more than 1300 years ago. The reason why fine brushworks could be prominent in art history is that the skills of painting were growing more mature while the materials for the painting were improved. Unlike fine brushworks, freehand works pay no attention to the lines but focus on the imagery so that they are more vivid than fine brushworks.
Chinese Fine brushworks painting

Chinese figure painting is a major subject of traditional Chinese painting, which has a longer history than landscape painting and bird-and-flower painting. It includes religious painting, beauty painting, portraitures, genre painting, historical story painting and so on.
Chinese figure painting

Mountains-and-waters painting, also called Shanshui or Shan Shui, Chinese landscape painting, or ink and color painting, is a specially art subject with a long history. It was developed in the Wei and Jin dynasties and the Northern and Southern dynasties more than 1700 years ago. At that time, it was attached to figure painting, usually as the background. It became independent in Sui and Tang dynasties more than 1300 years ago. The object of landscape painting includes mountain, water, stone, tree, house, room, building, vessel and vehicle, bridge, wind, rain, cloudy, sunny, snow, sun, cloud, fog, climates features of four seasons. 
Chinese Mountains-and-waters painting

Before the Wei and Jin dynasties and the Northern and Southern dynasties, as objects of Chinese art, patterns of flowers and birds have been engraved on potteries and bronzes. At that time, flowers, birds and some animals have some kind of mysterious implications and complicated social meanings. Flower-and-bird painting became an independent subject in Tang Dynasty and painting of pommel horses which belongs to flower-and-bird paintings gained a high artistic achievement at that time. 
Chinese Flower-and-bird painting

Before the 20th century, it is officially acknowledged that the difference between traditional Chinese painting and oil painting lies in the different application of lines, artistic conceptions, perspectives, anatomy, backgrounds and so on. However, in the 21st century when oil painting is freed from the bound of classicism and traditional Chinese painting is absorbing techniques of different schools of painting, the above idea falls behind the development of art history and becomes biased. Many painters at home and abroad are using oil painting techniques to paint traditional Chinese painting or the other way around. The typical case in the 18th century is court painter Giuseppe Castiglione (Chinese name Lang Shining) in Kangxi-Qianlong period, and the representative in the 20th century is painter Zhu Dequn, a French citizen of Chinese origin. 

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