You might think that the invasion of the Mongols in 1279 AD would have killed off a lot of artists and there wouldn’t be much good art during this time, but that’s not true. Or, you might think that Chinese artists would begin to paint in a more Mongol style, but that’s not what happened either.
Actually traditional painting continued at a very high level throughout this time. Artists went right on drawing landscapes, although people became more important in the landscapes than they had been under the Song Dynasty. Artists also began to pay a lot of attention to different kinds of brushstrokes and the surface of paintings.
At this time, a lot of rich men painted pictures, men who wanted to show how artistic and well-educated they were.
Pottery also kept right on changing and getting better during the Yuan dynasty. One of the main things that China could sell to the Silk Road traders was porcelain, which only Chinese potters knew how to make. So Chinese potters worked hard to make new and interesting pottery every year, for the traders to sell.
Learn by doing: painting a Chinese scroll
More about the Yuan Dynasty
More about the Mongols
Ming Dynasty Art
The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, by Jessica Rawson and others (1996). Rawson is a curator at the British Museum, and she uses the collection of the British Museum to illustrate this book. Library Journal calls it “easily the best introductory overview of Chinese art to appear in years”.
Art in China (Oxford History of Art Series), by Craig Clunas (1997). Not specifically , but a good introduction to the spirit of Chinese art. Warning: this one is not arranged in chronological order. Instead, it has chapters on sculpture, calligraphy, and so on.