The collections of Chinese painting and calligraphy at the Freer and Sackler Galleries are among the largest and most outstanding in the United States, with more than 1,700 individual paintings and more than 400 independent works of calligraphy. Excellent overall, the collections comprise works by a wide range of masters and schools dating from the mid-10th century to the end of the 20th century. Areas of particular strength and depth include a group of more than 100 works from the Song, Yuan, and early Ming periods (10th–14th century); around 150 Zhe School paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries; and more than 80 works from the mid- to late seventeenth century, representing both the orthodox and individualist movements and featuring 34 works by Bada Shanren (1626–1705). The collections also feature 85 portraits of imperial family members and high officials of the Qing dynasty court, dating from the 17th to early 20th century; more than 260 independent works of calligraphy by more than 175 artists, dating from the late 18th to the late 20th century; and more than 80 works by leading 20th-century masters Qi Baishi (1864–1957), Huang Binhong (1865–1955), and Zhang Daqian (1899–1983).
Other masters and schools are represented by smaller numbers of works, but these include many exceptional or singular examples. In addition, groups of paintings may be assembled to explore the historical evolution of different styles and techniques, such as the baimiao style of figure painting or the blue-and-green, Li-Guo, Ma-Xia, and Mi styles of landscape painting, as well as those of the four great Yuan dynasty masters. The collections also contain numerous bird-and-flower paintings, more than 200 Buddhist and Daoist paintings, and works on a broad variety of other themes and subjects.
The Chinese collections of the Freer and Sackler include several other areas of particular depth and strength, such as ancient jades and bronzes, ceramics, and Buddhist stone sculpture, as well as numerous individual works of great importance in other media. Objects from these areas of the collection may also be included in the workshops, either as the main focus or as supplementary materials.