Chen Hongshou Analysis

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Aesthetic Features and Influence of the Figure Paintings by
Chen Hongshou Cao Jing Xu Guangtong

Abstract: Chen Hongshou was a comprehensive and proficient painter in late Ming and Qing Dynasty, who was creative and unique in his own style. He made attempts to get rid of the “fashion of resplendent” by “traditional style” and was refereed to as the representative of artists with unique style and an influential figure in the 17th century.
Key words: figure painting; grotesque style; influence

Chen Hongshou (1598-1652), Zhanghou as his style name and “Old Lotus”as esteemed name, was a prominent painter, who inherited the tradition and created new style in painting. With the unique aesthetic values, his paintings,
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For example, in the painting Beautiful Lady Looking in the Mirror, he used an exaggerated method to show the exceptionally appealing manner and charm of the woman. Woodcut painting enjoyed its prosperity in Ming and early Qing Dynasties. In Quzi xing yin tu, he painted Qu Yuan ( a great patriotic poet in Zhan Guo Period) a thin and haggard but resolute character who would never give in. This has become the model for painting the image of Qu Yuan in later generations. In this painting the painter used neither extreme straight nor extreme curve lines. The straight lines are not as strong as the ones in his works when he was in the middle age, while the curve lines are not as soft as those in his late works, but his excellent skill can be seen in this…show more content…
In his paintings, the characters have strange appearance: big head and short body. As we know, the methods selected by artists usually have something to do with their experiences, opinions and philosophies. Their life perspective are shaped by their special time and environment and determines the way they view the world---- It is what they feel. So life is not simple records of the objective world, but a mental world. From the above analysis we can see that the grotesque figures in Chen Hongshou’s paintings reflect his mentality and wild emotion. There is a unique beauty in the characters of his paintings and this style is the formed with the change and maturity of the painter. The unique features of Chen Hongshou’s paintings developed from free style in his early years, tough and elegant in his middle age and simple and startling in his late years. According to what Zhou Gongliang wrote, “When Zhang Hou started learning painting at young age, he did not care about the similarity in appearance. He would change the way of painting when he was copying. So the figures had very distinct features in his paintings.” His style is usually revealed naturally in his paintings and reflects the highest taste of traditional Chinese men of
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