During Wanli period (1573-1620) of Ming Dynasty, some Jesus missionaries came to China to carry out missionary activities. Meanwhile western technology, knowledge and ideas also came to China together with them, and gradually penetrated into each field of Chinese society in a small scale. The field of visual art was no exception. The American Chinese art historian James Cahill believed that the trend of preferring "odd" and "strange" paintings could be considered as the results of western visual art impact. Wu Li, who lived during years between Ming and Qing dynasties believed in Catholic and followed missionaries to Macao church to learn Latin. He even gave himself a Latin name Simon Xavierius a Cunha. Part of his landscape paintings obviously adopted perspective of western painting. This painting depicts landscape of waters in region south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River: the sloping bank extends to the rear part of the picture, creating a sense of perspective and sense of space; trees also present variation from large in the near to small in the distant. It can be regarded as an early manifestation of "learning from the West" in painting arts.


  • Title: Spring Comes to the Lake
  • Creator: Wu Li
  • Date: 1676
  • Provenance: Shanghai Museum
  • Physical format: painting, 123.5h x 62.5w cm
  • Medium: colors on paper
  • Dynastic period: Qing Dynasty
  • Artist's birth and death date: 1632-1718

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