Modern Art of Snuff Bottle

The development of Chinese Painting inside the snuff bottle: Works of the leading Asian artists


This article is the second part of Peter published essay. It has thoroughly illustrated the development of Chinese inside Painting. The Chinese inside Painting is an evolving art form. Peter compares the works from the last century painters, Zhou Leyuan, Ding Erzhong, Wang Xisan, and Liu Shouben to the vert-modern artists such as Fu guoshun, Liu Ziyi, to demonstrate how do they evolve over time. As known to collectors, the painting skills required for inside Painting are much more challenging than traditional Chinese Painting. Of all themes, cat painting is considered to be relatively difficult. Wang Xisan, as the founder of Ji school, develop a new way to paint Cat, which looks more vivid than any artists prior to his generation. However, did it stop moving forward? Clearly not according to this study.

Inside Painting is an emerging art form with more young artists joining into this field. Ji school is the largest and outnumbers than the other school's pupils combined. Therefore, Peter cites Ji school to explain the development. From the year 1970 to 2010, each decade has appeared different look at the Cat depicting. Every year, the artists are improving their skills in such as capturing the vivid look of Cat and being involved in their artist's feelings. It is an incredible art industry in terms of Chinese painting art. Later stage, the artists also jump out of the box to paint the landscape with a different approach, such as Li Yingtao's splash colour. In the past, people said the inside painting is merely a work of crafts. When you finish the reading, I promise, you will have different thought on this beautiful miniature painting inside the bottle.

I spent nearly three hours transcript this article. We expect the snuff bottle publications could be put in the digital world instead of simply journals confined to only a small group of people. It is a pity. After 2020, the online art market and appreciation have grown and earned more exposure than offline due to the COVID- 19. The shifting of people’s habits online has been prevailing. Let the article be searched on Google! It will invite more collectors to join this community. Suppose you’re interested in publishing your hard copy publication on D.D Art. Please email us at ddartwork@outlook.com. We’re happy to help at no charge.


In this two-part article, I have addressed four points:

  1. The history and genealogy of the Five Schools of Modern Inside Painting.

  2. The main characteristics of the Five Schools

  3. Quantum leaps in painting skill over the past fifty years

  4. Quantum leaps in painting creativity over the past twenty years

The first two points were covered in Part I of this article, which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of the Journal. In Part II of this article, I now come to the last two points, which in my opinion, will particularly appeal to those collectors who regard inside painting as a real form of art rather than just a craft. In Part I of this article, I showed the main characteristics of all the Modern Schools with the exception of the Ji School. I could not realistically go into any depth to illustrate the Ji School because of the very large number of famous Ji School artists, many of whom have their own individual and often very original styles.

Therefore, the best I can do to illustrate the richness and depth of the Ji School is to use examples from some leading Ji School artists to demonstrate my last two points: the quantum leaps in painting skill and creativity in the past decades within the Schools of Modern Inside Painting. In order to show the quantum leaps in painting skill over the past fifty years, I have used paintings of cats for the following reasons:

  1. Cats are technically very difficult to paint because of their individual faces and fine fur, especially Persian cats.

  2. We are familiar with cats. Everyone knows what a cat should look like.

  3. At one time, I had several Persian cat pets, so I know better than many people

how the faces of these cats differ from the caricatured-almost cartoon-like way they are often painted. I also used cats because Master Wang Xisan himself used a cat as an example to explain how a bottle is painted in one of his most recent books, Masters of Chinese Arts and Crafts: Wang Xisan ( 中國工藝美術大師 ) : 王習三(2014). The example in figure 1 was painted in 2006 by Master Lu Jianguang 盧建廣, who was a pupil of Wang Xisan from 1980. I start from the first decade of Early Modern inside painting, 1960-1970 (fig. 2), showing two early works by Wang Xisan when he was still a member of the Jing School. (The two early Jing School bottles in figure 2 are also usually attributed to Wang Xisan.) Going on from there, it is easy to see the growth of painting skills as we move through the following two decades, 1970-1980 (figs. 3 and 4) and then 1980-1990 ( figs. 5 through 8 ). Regarding the direct pupils of Wang Xisan can refer tho this directory.

How to paint a cat inside a bottle, Lu Jianguang ( 2006 ). D.D Art
How to paint a cat inside a bottle, Lu Jianguang ( 2006 ). Fig 1

Cats through the decades: 1960 to 1970. D.D Art Snuff Bottle
Cats through the decades: 1960 to 1970. Fig 2