Antique Chinese Paintings and Scrolls

The earliest antique Chinese paintings date from the late 4th century and are a favourite among collectors. The paintings often portray landscapes, flowers, or scenes from nature, and are rolled around wooden spools rather than continuously hung up for viewing. The artists sign their creations by stamping it with their name in Chinese characters in red ink.

What is scroll art?

Scroll painting is an art form practiced mainly in East Asia. There are two dominant forms: Chinese landscapes and Japanese pictorial storytelling art. The picture is generally painted on a long strip of silk or paper that is 10 to 15 inches long and up to 30 feet wide. It is meant to be viewed be unscrolling a two-feet section at a time. Chinese paintings are also made as narrow vertical scrolls for hanging on a wall.

How do you hang a Chinese scroll painting?

You can hang a long narrow painting by simply mounting a picture hanging hook, wall J-hook, or even a map tack on the wall at the appropriate height. The Chinese scroll can then be hung by its cord at the top. Be aware that the J-hook adhesive can leave an imprint that lightens your wall colour after removal. Be sure that the cord and upper bracing are secure.

How do you read a Chinese scroll painting?

Very often the paintings will be accompanied by Chinese calligraphy brushed onto the white space of the painting. This is a poem by the artist complementing the landscape or picture. Ideally, you should obtain a translation of the calligraphy.

How do you view a scroll painting?

A Chinese handscroll is a long horizontal strip of distinct scenes that are meant to be viewed from right to left while rolling and unrolling the scroll so that only two feet are visible at one time. It's similar to scenes along a journey or illustrated chapters of a story. The scroll is kept rolled up and stored carefully when not viewed.

How do you mount and hang Chinese silk paintings?

Chinese silk paintings can be mounted and framed for display on a wall. If the painting is only on rice paper, it should first be mounted on a backing of silk brocade. If it's already on an existing scroll, the scroll ends of the silk brocade can be cut off and the entire painting framed under UV protective glass to protect any fragile paints or inks.

It's relatively easy to hang a Chinese wall scroll painting, which needs only a hook to support the cord at the top. A horizontal Chinese painting, if not too wide, can be unrolled, mounted, framed, and hung like a traditional Western framed work of art.