Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on paper
6 7/8 x 17 1/2 in. (17.5 x 44.5 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Not on view
Shitao's versatility as a painter is matched by his broad command of ancient script types and individual earlier masters' writing styles. Unlike most of his contemporaries, who wrote in only one or two scripts, Shitao freely varied the script type, style, and scale of his writing to suit format and content.
In this fan Shitao emulates the archaic regular script of Zhong You (151–230) in the first part of his text (right half) and Zhong's follower, the fourteenth-century recluse-artist Ni Zan (1306–1374) in the second part (left half). The unmodulated brushstrokes and rectilinear forms convey an air of simplicity and purity well suited to Shitao's poems, which describe his lifelong devotion to poetry, painting, and calligraphy inspite of often straitened circumstances.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (30 columns in standard script)