The Development of Painting in China

The Midterm Exam Research Essay Question Choices will be available January 31, by 8 am, one week before the due date of Feb 7, 11pm. Students will have one week to choose one of the available subjects, research it, and write a short essay. The essay is considered 50% of the Midterm Exam or 10 points. The other 50% (also worth 10 points) will be an Identification Exam/Quiz available the day before the same due date as the Essay. 

Essay Question: Discuss the development of painting in China, include, techniques, formats, and some of the philosophical concepts involved. Use and show examples of specific works as covered in class or in the textbook.


The Chinese painting is considered as one of the ancient artistic practices in the world. The art of painting in China is believed to have begun during the Neolithic period, with the earliest forms being the Chinese pottery. The culture of painting was passed from generation to generation during the Bronze Age period and across the various reigns such as the Shang Dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty, the Qin Dynasty, and the Han Dynasty. Today, Chinese painting remains one of the most revered artistic practices across the world.  The Chinese paintings utilize both Gongbi and ink and wash techniques while embracing philosophes such as Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism.

Background Information Historically, the Chinese painting were decorative and composed of a range of patterns and designs rather than pictures (see fig #1 below). During the Warring States period, there was a shift in Chinese painting from the decorative style to a representational style, with many of the artists depicting their surroundings. The imperial period saw the introduction of calligraphy in paintings mainly used by scholars. Initially, a large proportion of the knowledge used in traditional Chinese painting was derived from burial sites. The tomb paintings during this period were done on walls, silk banners, and lacquered objects. The main aim of the paintings at burial sites was to protect the dead and help their souls through the journey to heaven. The tomb paintings and sculptures reached their peak during the Han Dynasty…

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