Chinese Brush Painting (From c. 1900 to Present)


溥心畬 ( 溥 儒 ) Pu Hsin-Yu (Pu Ru) (1896-1963)


A cousin of the last emperor of China, Pu Ru was once selected as one of the candidates to succeed the dying Emperor Guang-Hsu (1875-1909); however, Dowager Express Tzu Hsi ( 慈禧太后 ) chose the younger Pu Yi (1906 - 1967) who became the last emperor of the Ching Dynasty. Pu Ru earned his doctorate degrees both in biology and astronomy at the Berlin University in Germany. Among all the active painters in Beijing in the 1930s and 1940s, Pu Ru was widely considered as the most accomplished artist and the best painter of the Northern School of Chinese Painting. 




陳少梅 Chen Sao-Mei (1909-1954)


A true representative of the Northern School of Chinese Landscape Painting, Chen Sao-Mei was highly achieved in painting and was often praised as "the first painter after Tang Yin ( 唐寅 )." Born into a prominent and rich family, he showed his genius in painting and was often referred as a prodigy by many other senior painters. At age 15, he attended the Chinese Brush Painting Research Association ( 中國畫學研究會 ) and became the last "closed-door disciple" of the founder, Jing Bei-Lo ( 金北樓 ) who taught as many as nearly 400 students. He studied and emulated ancient masterpieces of painting day and night and established his fame before age 20. His styles, methodologies, and genres had covered a wide range of ancient painting masters and styles. The late Chi Gong (Qi Gong, 啟功 ) said "Though I am only two years younger than Sao-Mei, when I looked at his paintings I felt that he was my predecessor and already a famous master..." Chi Gong also stated "Chen only painted for 30 years in his short life, but his brushstrokes can be traced back for 300 years."

Chen's calligraphy inscriptions on paintings were resembling those of Ni Zan.

Chen was also famous for painting a series of works based on the Twenty-Four Stories of Filial Pieties.









吳鏡汀 Wu Jing-Ting (1904-1972)


Wu Jing-Ting started learning paintings of Wang Shi-Gu ( 王石谷, Wang Hui ) and then received instructions from Jing Bei-Lo ( 金北樓 ). After age 30, he emulated many copies of famous paintings of the Sung and Yuan Dynasties and established a solid foundation of traditional Chinese painting and became a renowned landscapist. His brushstrokes are agile, spirited, elegant and delicate and conform to the traditional school which was handed down by Jing Bei-Lo.

When studying Wang Shi-Gu's works, Wu Jing-Ting learned a variety of traditional skills. When he was emulating the paintings of the Sung, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties, he often went to the museums many times and tried to memorize the pictures and then started painting at home. (At that time, it was not allowed to stay in the museums to emulate the original masterpieces.) The memorized emulation ( 背臨 ) had helped him to understand and feel the spirits of the ancient masters and train his visual memory which later enriched his artistic approaches. He also traveled to the mountains to recreate new styles based on the traditional skills; he encountered issues such as using the traditional brushstrokes to represent the landscapes as seen in modern China. He figured out that it takes a long process of thoughts, digestions, and reflections to conceptualize the unique images of the mountains.

His students included the famous Chi Gong ( 啟功 ), Wang Jin-Jiang ( 王金江 ), and etc. Wang published a series of excellent videos about learning Chinese Brush Painting (



 Landscape and willows by Wang Jin-Jiang ( 王金江 )




季康 Ji Kang ( 1913-2008)



Ji Kang learned painting from albums and models after he was orphaned in his childhood. Then he moved to Shanghai to study painting with his uncle ( 季守正 ) who was renowned for calligraphy and writing plum blossoms where he also met other artists and exhibited his paintings with his uncle's. He was especially renowned for painting court ladies.

After moving to Taiwan, he married a painter who used to be one of Pu Hsin-Yu's circles and was also good at landscape painting. He became a professor of painting at the university and exchanged techniques with other renowned painters. Ji Kang's paintings were highly acclaimed and were exhibited in the room when the late President Chiang Kai-Shek hosted foreign diplomats. Pu Hsin-Yu, Zhang Da-Chian, and many other artists and scholars had inscribed words of praise for him. Later the couple settled in San Diego, California. He passed away on April 16, 2008. 


張大千(center), 溥心畬 (center right), 季康 (right)





Ji Kang's short biography and calligraphy written at age 80

Info provided by Ji Kang's granddaughter:




啟功 Chi Gong (1912-2005)

Recognized as a national treasure by the Chinese government, Chi Gong was famous for his painting, poetry, couplets, calligraphy and etc. Born into a Manchurian family, Chi Gong was a relative of Pu-Hsin Yu and also received some instructions on calligraphy and painting from Pu. He learned painting from Jia Xi-Ming ( 賈羲民 ) and Wu Jing-Ting ( 吳鏡汀 ) and often accompanied his teachers to study paintings in the museums. His paintings look pure, clean, and elegant.
Chi Gong became a professor and served as a committee member in museums. Though his calligraphy became popular in China, it is often criticized by many people as weak, slippery, and lack of strength and depth.







Landscape (Zhang Da-Chian 張大千)

Zhang Da-Chian (1899-1983) was an internationally renowned Chinese brush painter. He was also well known in poetry and literature. He also studied textile dyeing and became an expert of colors. He duplicated many copies from the original masterpieces and was known as a collector and capable pasticheur of paintings of the Ching Dynasty. His duplicated paintings had tricked many connoisseurs and directors of museums.  

Zhang with Pablo Picasso




Zhang's paintings in various styles and subjects




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