Xie Zhiliu's (1910–1997) attraction to bird-and-flower motifs, together with his preference for meticulous drawing and fluid calligraphy, naturally led him to the work of two Qing dynasty masters of the genre: Yun Shouping (1633–1690) and Jiang Tingxi (1669–1732). Xie sometimes emulated these models a bit more loosely to accommodate his own taste and expressive style.
Yun Shouping, born and raised in Xie's hometown of Changzhou, revived the local Piling-school style of flower painting, which first rose to prominence in the thirteenth century, and transformed it into a more lyrical, literati mode of expression. Yun preferred to paint in translucent colors on paper, rather than silk, and he was famous for his "boneless" method of painting—that is, without ink outlines. He frequently embellished his compositions with his own poems, written in a fluid running script.
Jiang Tingxi began his career as a court painter in about 1700, but he was quickly promoted to the Hanlin Academy and ultimately rose to the post of president of the Board of Revenue. In spite of these weighty official responsibilities, Jiang maintained his reputation as a brilliant painter of realistic flowers and still lifes, which he executed with great technical proficiency.