Liu Danzhai (1931-2011) was born in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. When he was only 10 years old, he had his first exhibition in Wenzhou. Because he was from a poor family, he could only draw in his spare time, finding inspiration in portraits from the Han and Tang dynasties, landscapes from the Song and Yuan and works from the Qing-era artist Bada Shanren. In 1951, he went to work for the Great China Poster Publishing House in Shanghai, where he specialized in murals and hanging charts. Later, he worked for the Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House, and took up teaching at the Shanghai Chinese Painting Academy and the Art Department of the Shanghai Normal University.
Liu specialties were Chinese painting, New Year pictures and cartoon strips. He became famous for illustrating the classic novel A Dream of Red Mansions (红楼梦).