The Chinese were the first to consider landscape painting to be of sufficient interest itself to form a subject for pictorial art and worthy of a master's brush. While European painters at the time of the early Renaissance were depicting saints in landscape paintings that were childishly conceived, badly studied and very conventional, Chinese schools of landscape had long enjoyed great popularity. In this sense, Oriental landscape paintings were vastly more advanced than those conceived in the West.
The Dutch painters of the sixteenth century were the first to paint landscape in Europe. But in China, Lich I, in the year 200 B.C., made landscape paintings of the Four Great Rivers, and others of the Five Great Peaks. In the twelfth century A.D., the school boasted its highest achievements under the House of Sung. By that time such early conventions as mountains outlined with gold, and filled with green, had given way to a very full expression of naturalism, qualified by an exquisite sense of arrangement, and so universally agreeable, that it has influenced all modern art.