The Four Seasons

Gao Qipei is well known for painting with his fingers rather than using a brush. He adopted the technique later in his career, having previously painted landscapes and figures in a meticulous style. In this painting he depicts fish and plants associated with the different seasons alongside ancient bronze ritual vessels, combining the natural and the archaic. The first known finger-painter is Zhang Zhao who was active around AD 750, and the practice continued through a small number of artists, mostly regarded as eccentrics.


  • Catalogue text

    Gao Qipei grew up in Jianchang (present Nancheng) in Jiangxi province, though his family had Manchurian connections. He had a successful career as an official in southern China but was better known as a painter. His earlier works were predominantly figure paintings and landscapes in meticulous traditional style, though he later built up a reputation as an eccentric and is particularly well-known for finger-painting. The eigth-century painter Zhang Zhao was the first to use finger instread of brush, but the technique became closely associated with Gao.

    In: Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000)

Further reading

Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000), no. 29 on p. 51, illus. pp. 51-53 fig. 29

Reference URL

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