An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Qing Period - Art

Mar 19, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Qing period art can be called a culmination of all art styles that have been developed during the past 2500 years. Unlike Ming artists, artisans, painters, calligraphers and craftsmen during the Qing period used very old forms and shapes for their works of art. Chinaware and lacquerware objects were given not only the bulgy shapes that had developed since the Song Dynasty, but we find also vases or cups with the shape of Shang or Zhou bronzeware like the zun type. Gourd shapes vessels, vases with three openings or more, the typical "rice" bowls and the small tea cups and tea pots we know today all developed during the Qing Dynasty. The typical bluegreen of the Ming chinaware changed to a broader palette of colors, ranging from orange to green and gold; Qing chinaware is much more colorful than the former types. New materials extensively used now are enamel, cloisonne and glass ware. Materials like jade, gold and cloisonne are first combined in a single art object. Additionally, a dark wooden base for vases or other items came up. We also possess a lot of objects made from easy decayable materials like wood or bamboo, for example furniture, and of course cloth material that served as daily worn dress, or as simple object of admiration. In the field of calligraphy, Qing artists went on to use the traditional styles of writing, but unlike Ming calligraphers, people now studied the oldest examples of Chinese script like the oracle bones and bronze vessel inscriptions. With the advent of Christian missionaries in China, Chinese painters learned from the Jesuits Western painting techniques like perspective and the use of oil-paint instead of monochrome ink. Even buildings and palaces were constructed according to Western style, like the Yuanmingyuan Palace 圓明園 that was destroyed in the 19th century. Typical for Qing Dynasty private houses are the many gardens laid out by rich families in Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Imperial Palace
Imperial Tomb
Folk art