Seals on Paintings

You very seldom see a Chinese painting without at least one seal stamped on it. Like a seal of approval, it’s the artist’s way of saying, “I think this is good enough to deserve my seal.” Under their signature a painter would impress their name seal. More seals might be used with favorite phrases or with pictures that held personal meaning for the artist. Each would have been chosen to enhance the overall design.


I carve all the seals used on my paintings (with the exception of a few given to me as gifts by other seal carvers). Some are in Chinese but some may be in English. I urge you to examine the seals on a painting and, even if you can’t read them, ask yourself why that particular seal was put in that particular place. Look at a painting and cover up a seal with your hand to see what it would look like without the seal, and how this changes the composition. They are never placed randomly.

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