Chen Chun (陳淳, 1483–1544) was a native of Changzhou (modern Suzhou) in Jiangsu province. His courtesy name was Daofu (道復), which he used as his given name from around the age of 50. He also had another courtesy name, Fufu (復甫), and the pesudonym Baiyang Shanren (白陽山人). Chen Chun was born into a literati family and delved into learning from childhood, excelling in the studies of the Classics, ancient poetry and prose, and calligraphy. He once studied poetry and prose, calligraphy, and painting from the master Wen Zhengming (文徵明, 1470–1559), and Chen admired and emulated Shen Zhou (沈周, 1427–1509) as well. Chen Chun is considered an important artist in the Wu School of Chinese painting.
Chen Chun’s achievements in painting were outstanding, developing great innovations in the sketching-ideas style of bird-and-flower painting in the Ming dynasty. While Chen inherited a foundation of sketching-from-life techniques from Shen Zhou and Wen Zhengming, he also looked back to the Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1271–1368) periods for inspiration from a wide range of masters. As a result, he combined their virtues to create his own unique style of free and natural brushwork in the sketching-ideas tradition that is both lofty and untrammeled. Equally renowned as his latter counterpart in this manner, Xu Wei (徐渭, 1521–1593), they became known together as “Qingteng and Baiyang.” They were representatives of the sketching-ideas bird-and-flower school of literati painting in the Ming dynasty and also highly appreciated by scholars and gentry at the time. Chen Chun was likewise gifted at landscape painting with utmost lyricism. His early landscape style reflects the study of Wen Zhengming’s manner as he traced back to Shen Zhou and then to the Four Yuan Masters. The style of his middle years reveals a combination of the manners of Mi Fu (米芾, 1051–1108), Gao Kegong (高克恭, 1254–1322), and others, and he dealt mostly with subjects of Jiangnan (south of the Yangtze River) scenery. In terms of technique, Chen Chun adapted the watery ink style of flowers in the sketching-ideas manner for use in landscape painting. His brush method, often unrestrained and direct, exemplifies much of the temperament of literati aesthetics. Furthermore, Chen Chun was a gifted calligrapher who excelled at running and cursive scripts. Along with the renowned Zhu Yunming (祝允明, 1460–1527), he belonged to the “novel and bold (奇縱)” school of Wu school calligraphers. Leaning towards the expression of unrestrained and elegant temperament among literati, Chen Chun can be considered a pioneer in leading the late Ming romantic style of calligraphy.