In the age when the Yuan Dynasty was under the rule of the Mongolian nationality,the intellectuals of the Hun nationality felt a heavy psychological blow.This was something thatwent without saything.Therefore,the trend of hermitage and ease seeking came to be in great vogue,promoting the landscape painting to be turned into articles for diversion for the sake of experssing their mood and indulging in self-admiration.
The special features of literati paintings were that likeness in spirit is better than likeness in form,pen and ink work excels mouding,and the chief thing is concept,with the pictures only for self amusement.NiZan even put likeness in form at a place of no importance at all,which mirrored the attitude of literati paintings as something to suit their dispositions and to enjoy themselves with True,the influence of calligraphy on painting had long been at work,but those who clearly pointed out and self-consciously utilized it were the scholar painters of the Yuan Dynasty.They introduced calligraphy into pictures,causing painting to become more equipped with the nature of script writhing,the inking and the strokes to roam inside and outside the images,and the subjective will power of the painters of the painters to tend to come to the surface.In fact,the Yuan Dynasty paintings lay stress on conception.Besides the conception on the face of the pictures,they also contained the conception in between the inking and the strokes,which,when becoming the objects of aesthetic apperciation themselves,would endow paintings and independent nature in the true sense of the word.
The Ming Dynasty carried on the system of the Song Dynasty and meanwile set up the imperial court painting academy.The court artists took the Southern Song style as their model,seeking trenchancy and right-angle turns of strokes. Dai Jin ,an early-stage artist,and some others were considered as matchless ones at the time,but their successors persisted in seeking vigour and sheer showery without reser-vation.In addition to that,their inkings and strokes appeared slapdash and coares,for which later generations of painters had quite some veiled criticism showing disapproval.Another mainstream of the Ming-dynasty paintings ran outside the count academy.On the credit of the extending development through the Song and the Yuan years,scholar paintings became step by step a decisive force in the art circles.The Wumen School headed by Shen Zhou ,Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin and Qiu Ying held sway in the painter' circles.After going through the baptism of the Yuan dynasty academic paintings,even those who had inherited the count academy style began to be particular about the makings of the scholars characterized by dilution and placidity.
Therefore,various styles of moderation,reservation,softness and gracefulness,and meticulousness were then flowing with lustre and brimming with splendour.The Ming dynasty art circles were known for the multiplicity of schools and sects,each boasting its own different style.There was the style of vigour and sternness typical of the ZheJiang School and the Academy,and so there was that of temperateness and refinedness belonging to the Wumen and the Songjiang Schools.There could be seen the scrupulous true-to-reality depictions of Lu Ji and Lin Liang ,and likewise the free impressionist ink-splashes of Chen Chun and Xu Wei .As for figure paintings,it was known as the Southern Chen(Hongshou) and the Northern Cui(Zizhong),the two artists at the time.A figure painting specialist could also be found in the person of Zen g Jing.All of them succeeded in adding radiance to the Ming dynasty paintings with their distinct individualities and exquisite works.
The court painters of the Qing Dynasty by and large sought after the method of displaying meticulousness and lifelikeness. Giusseppe Castiglione from Italy employed the Western method of perspective and colour application, making the images highly lifelike. Because of this, he found great favour with the Chinese emperor. On the other hand, Chinese artists like Yu Zhiding Zhang Zongcang and others strictly held to the old traditions and thus lacked exploration of new ideas. As compared with the paintings of the preceding dynasties, the Qing dynasty ones presented a lot more features, though well-known artists such as "The Four Wangs, Wu and Yun" and "The Four Monks" all followed "The Four Yuan-dynasty Veterans", and furthermore, they were all influenced by Dong Qichang . However, the artists in the first bracket presented at the same time more of their own styles of moderation, placidity and steadiness whilst those in the second bracket tended to give went to their sentiments. And owing to the different positions the two brackets of artists were placed in, they had different psychological states and presented different features in their paintings. Speaking of them in a certain sense, they had all developed the old traditions from their own angles of view. Then there came "The Yangzhou School" and "The Haishang School"( Shanghai ), which had grown up in the atmosphere of rural economy, and therefore in such a milieu their works had a little stronger flavour of the townspeople and commerce. Eager for instant success and quick benefits, the former showed in their pictures a flow of air of restlessness whereas the latter's works catered to the psychological state of the inhabitants of a more opened-up city with their multi-posture and varied-colour style that played to the gallery.
Bayi Middle School,in Beijing,China