Born near Yang-chou into an artisan family, Ts'ai Chia's early training was as a silversmith, but he was friendly with several leading artistic and cultured figures and he gradually evolved into a skilled painter, poet, and calligrapher. He saw himself as part of the Ch'ing orthodox lineage and was strongly influenced by Wang Hui (1632-1717), Wang Shih-min (1592-1680), and others of this important group.
Ts'ai often painted with color in a controlled manner and precise brushwork that generally reflected the conservative orthodox tradition. He was also, however, a lyrical poetic painter of romantic images as this large, ink landscape demonstrates. When Ts'ai breaks from the orthodox formulas of ink drawing followed by color application as he does
While the painting is an original concept of the artist, his inscription is found on an earlier painting by the famous Wu school artist, Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559). The odd alignment of the inscription is seen in one of the few other landscapes by Ts'ai-Chia done in this style.