The Zhe school refers to the group of conservative, academic Chinese painters who worked primarily in the 15th century, during the Ming dynasty. These painters specialized in large and decorative paintings that perpetuated the styles and interests of the Southern Song (1127–1279) academy of painting and represent a contrast to the work of scholar-painters of the contemporary Wu school. The name derives from the first character of the name of the province in which the school flourished (Zhejiang) and in which the Southern Song capital, Hangzhou, had been located.
the Zhe school were no longer ensconced in an imperially sponsored
academy of painting, but they were often given imperial support within
the palace administration. Their paintings frequently are elaborations
of the Song academy bird-and-flower painting or similarly enhanced
landscapes based essentially on the Ma-Xia style. Their compositions
favor a fragmentary and additive quality over subtle unity, and their
palette is often characterized by vivid plays of ink and color. The work
of the 15th-century painter Dai Jin (戴進), traditionally considered the
school’s founder, and of other Zhe school painters is often but a loose
paraphrase of Song academic ideals. The school continued into later
times, culminating with the 17th-century painter Lan Ying (藍瑛), but it
was increasingly supplanted by artists and interests identified with
“literati painting” (wenrenhua, 文人畫).