The arts of China are as varied and complicated as its history. What we now refer to as China covers a vast geographical area that has been controlled, conquered, and divided by a succession of different peoples over the centuries. The Art Institute’s collection of Chinese art includes objects that span nearly five millennia, ranging from the earliest evidence of Chinese stonework from the Neolithic period through elegant personal accessories of the late Bronze Age as well as a remarkable collection of ceramic tomb figures that exemplify the highest level of mortuary sculpture from the Han through Tang dynasties. The Art Institute’s collection reflects China’s changing history, religion, and culture. In it one can trace the development of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism in China, changes in imperial rule, and technological advances in the Art Institute’s works.
Today, in a period that brings East and West into ever-closer proximity, modern and contemporary Chinese, Taiwanese, and Chinese-American artists engage ancient Chinese art with international intellectual and artistic currents. The Art Institute’s collection of Chinese art includes works from the modern and contemporary periods, such as Landscape by Li Huayi and woodblock prints by Chen Xuhai and Hu Ming.
Man's Jifu (Semiformal Court Robe), Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 1750/75. China. Gift of the Antiquarian Society.