Image: 45 9/16 x 22 in. (115.7 x 55.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 88 x 28 1/2 in. (223.5 x 72.4 cm)
Overall with knobs: 88 x 31 3/4 in. (223.5 x 80.6 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David M. Levitt, by exchange, 1978
Not on view
Recalling a beautiful woman in their blushing colors and delicate shapes, the blossoms of the lotus and hibiscus epitomize the exuberance and fullness of youth. Seeming to mock himself for continuing to admire such lush summer flowers, the aging Shitao inscribed the lines by the renowned Song dynasty poet Su Shi (1036–1101): “As I grow older, I have stopped having lush dreams, Even one hibiscus tree by the pond is too much for me.”
Suffering from the infirmities of old age, Shitao, in the last years of his life, frequently painted in a broad impressionistic style with rich wet ink. As he wistfully suggests in his inscription, painting in such an obviously sensuous manner was perhaps not entirely appropriate for one of his age.
Signature: Artist's inscription: Bogong [Su Shi (1036–1101)] said, "As I become older, I stopped having fantasies of gaiety. Even one hibiscus tree by the pond is too much for me". Thus inspired, I painted this, but the paper was not very good and it obstructed the feeling of my brush. It is as if my fingers were numb with cold. I fear that [this painting] will not be accepted by the discriminating. (translation modified from that of Ned Owyang)
Signed: Ji, in the Daditang
Seal: Yenzhong zhi ren wulaoyi
Marking: Collector's seals: 1. C.C. Wang (1907–2003: Wang Jiqian x x jain mingzhi (lower right corner), rectangular relief. 2. Sun Pu (20th century): Zhongying Shending Shuhua (lower left), square relief. 3. Wang Xuan (act. 19th century): Guzhaicang (lower left corner), rectangular, relief.