This dissertation is the first detailed and extensive study dedicated to the life and art of the master artist and scholar-official Chen Rong (active 13th century), and offers an expanded analysis of his most famous work, the Nine Dragons scroll (1244). It provides a reconstruction of Chen Rong's biography, character and political career, and discusses his significance and impact in the study of Chinese painting during the late Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) and beyond, by highlighting the reception and interpretation of the Nine Dragons scroll in the past and in modern times. This is achieved by addressing writings such as eulogies, poems and commentary about Chen Rong by his contemporaries and later biographers, and also analysis of recent works by contemporary Chinese artists that reinterpret Chen Rong's Nine Dragons motif directly. In addition to offering an expanded reading and interpretation of Chen Rong's inscriptions on the Nine Dragons scroll and inscriptions by subsequent viewers of the scroll, this study sheds light on the artistic context, significance, and historical development of dragons and dragon painting in China. This dissertation also offers the first full English transcription and translation of Emperor Qianlong's inscription on the Nine Dragons scroll, and that of his eight officials. Furthermore, this dissertation includes two detailed appendices; one is a detailed appendix of all of Chen Rong's paintings documented to exist today, and the second is a list of paintings attributed to Chen Rong that have been mentioned in historical documents that no longer appear extant. This interdisciplinary study provides insight into the processes that influence how an artist's work is transformed beyond his time to that of legendary status. This clarification of Chen Rong's biography and artistic activity, particularly with respect to his most famous work the Nine Dragons scroll, contributes to modern scholarship by providing an expanded understanding of Chen Rong's life and art, which in turn, adjusts prevailing perceptions of his life and work.