Dong Qichang (1555-1636) was born in Songjiang Huating. During the period of Emperor Wangli, Dong won third place in the imperial examination and landed a job in the court. He later resigned, however, and returned home. Dong was not only known as a calligrapher, but also a painter, collector and connoisseur. His paintings were of a fresh, chaste style and his great contribution is considered a gem in Chinese art history.
Dong's cursive hand works reflect the style of Yan Zhenqing, a great Chinese calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Dong was very content with his regular script, especially the small characters of regular script. Learning from every famous calligrapher, Dong developed his own unique style, which exerted a great influence on the development of Chinese calligraphy, becoming the mainstream until the Kangxi and Qianglong period of the mid-Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Dong's paintings were divided into two categories: ink-and-wash paintings, which were commonly seen, and multicolored paintings (mainly cyan). With the latter, Dong seldom worked from a draft before beginning to paint. Although the subjects of his paintings lacked variation, Dong made prominent achievements using ink. His works were influenced by famous painters of the Song and Yuan Dynasties (960-1368), but exhibited a more mature style.
Dong was a well-learned scholar, as well as a remarkable calligrapher and painter. He also wrote an important book,Huachanshi Suibi,about Chinese art history.