A. Painter of Northern and Southern Dynasties
Northern and Southern Dynasties were an important period in the history of painting. China plunged into a situation of divided states from the third to the sixth century, where incessant wars and successions of dynasties sharpened the thinking of Chinese artists which, in turn, promoted the development of art. Grotto murals, wall murals in tomb chambers, stone carvings, brick carvings and lacquer paintings flourished in a period deemed very important to the development of traditional Chinese painting. The scroll paintings of Gu Kaizhi, known as the founder of traditional Chinese painting, represented the painting style of the period.
B. Court Painters of Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty witnessed the prosperity of figure painting, where the most outstanding painters were Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang. Their paintings, depicting the life of noble women and court ladies, exerted an eternal influence on the development of shi nv hun (painting of beautiful women), which comprise an important branch of traditional Chinese painting.
C. Four great painters of Yuan Dynasty
During the yuan Dynasty the “Four Great Painters”-Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan and Wang Meng represented the highest level of landscape painting. Their works immensely influenced landscape painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
D. Wumen Painting School of Ming Dynasty
Suzhou in south China is called “Wumen” in history. Many well-known painters gathered in Suzhou in the Ming Dynasty which saw the rise of the Wumen Painting School. Keen to carry on the traditions of Chinese painting, the four Wumen masters Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Tang Ying and Qiu Ying blazed new trails and developed their own unique styles. The technique and way of expression exerted great influence on later generations.
E. Four Monk Masters of Qing Dynasty
When the Manchus came to power in 1644, the then-best painters showed their resentment to the Qing court in many ways. The “Four Monk Masters” — Zhu Da, determination not to serve the new dynasty, and they soothed their sadness by painting tranquil nurture scenes and traditional art.
F. Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou
The eight painters of Yangzhou were all with strong characters. They refused follow orthodoxy. They were proud, aloof and unrestrained, hence their name. They used freehand brushwork in their paintings with the main subjects of flowers and birds, bringing a pleasant change in painting style. Although they were not well accepted and even criticized for being heterodox, they broadened the horizon of flower-and-bird painting and expanded the future for flower-bird paintings.