Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Returning Home, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), ca. 1695
    Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707)
    Album of twelve paintings; ink and color on paper

    Each painting leaf: 6 1/2 x 4 1/8 in. (16.5 x 10.5 cm); Each album leaf: 8 5/16 x 5 5/16 in. (21.1 x 13.5 cm); W. of double page: 10 5/8 in. (27 cm)
    Facing pages inscribed by the artist
    From the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family Collection
    Gift of Wen and Constance Fong, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1976 (1976.280)

    Leaf 1
    Returning Home

    Landscapes alternate with flowers in this album of twenty-four small leaves of paintings and poetic comments that is designed to be perused slowly, one pair of leaves at a time. Each painting and its accompanying poem were conceived as a single expressive image in a superb harmony of painting, poetry, and calligraphy. The paintings are "written" with the same type of brushstrokes as the calligraphy, while in the "painterly" calligraphy, individual characters and brushstrokes in varying sizes and ink tones frequently imitate such pictorial motifs as orchid petals and leaves and misty and wavy landscape elements. Even the painter's seals are integrated into the design. Shitao ("Stone Wave"), a scion of the Ming imperial family, became a monk and a painter after the Manchu conquest of 1644. After many years of wandering from place to place in the south and spending nearly three years in Beijing, he "returned home" to Yangzhou toward the end of 1692.

    Leaf 1

    Returning Home

    As falling leaves descend
      with the wind,
    I return by the water
      through a thinning mist;
    I see a tiny hut clinging
      to the bank of a green stream,
    How soft and fat the white
      clouds look in the cold air.

    The phrase from which Shitao develops his first line is luo ye gui gen, "fallen leaves returning to the tree root," expressing a person's yearning to return home in his old age. The painter perhaps also feels that his life is like can yan, in line 2, literally "shredded" or "worn-out" mist. (This album was painted late in 1695, when Shitao was on his way back to Yangzhou from a visit to Hunan and Anhui provinces.)

    The quality that Shitao wanted to capture in this painting is fei, the "fat" of bai yun fei (literally, "white clouds look fat") in line 4 of the poem. Here he appears to reflect the ideas of Gong Xian (ca. 1618–1689): "In painting a clouded mountain, the cloud must appear thick [hou].. For thirty years I failed to achieve this until I met a master who told me, "If the mountain is thick, the cloud will look thick … This is the painting of no-painting." Shitao's misty and wonderfully translucent landscape is composed of two types of brushstrokes: those forming the pine needles, and the softly rubbed texture strokes forming the mountain. The "fat" white clouds are merely blank spaces: the illusion of "fatness" is created by the misty forms around them. Shitao has transformed this earlier "blank-outline" technique into layers of softly rubbed, transparent brushstrokes. The deep and "fat" quality of the painting results from a subtle intermixing of brushwork and inkwash: different shades of dark and light strokes and textures, solid and void areas interpenetrate one another.

    The calligraphy, rendered in Zhong You's (151–230) "regular" script, is also smooth and "fat." The round and three-dimensional individual strokes seem to move and twist gently in space, like the falling leaves of the poem. The mood is serenely reflective.

    Shitao probably cut his own seals. The poem is signed "Shitao" ("Stone Wave") and is followed by a square intaglio seal, Shi Yuanji yin ("[disciple of] Shakyamuni Yuanji's seal"). The small rectangular intaglio seals on the painting read Shitao and Yuanji.

    This work of art also appears on Connections: Poetry

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  • Returning Home, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), ca. 1695
    Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707)
    Album of twelve paintings; ink and color on paper

    Each painting leaf: 6 1/2 x 4 1/8 in. (16.5 x 10.5 cm); Each album leaf: 8 5/16 x 5 5/16 in. (21.1 x 13.5 cm); W. of double page: 10 5/8 in. (27 cm)
    Facing pages inscribed by the artist
    From the P. Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Family Collection
    Gift of Wen and Constance Fong, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Dillon, 1976 (1976.280)

    Leaf 2
    Plum Blossoms and Bamboo

    First it shows one or
      two blossoms,
    Gradually we see five or
      ten flowers;
    In a setting sun
      with brilliant clouds glowing
      in the distance,
    How the beautiful flowers
      compete with my brush and
      ink.

    During the early Yuan (Mongol) period, scholar-painters developed, as symbols of enduring beauty, the theme of "three friends in winter"—the pine tree, bamboo, and plum blossoms—a theme which also became popular as a decoration on Yuan and Ming blue-and-white ceramic ware. By the seventeenth century, an expanded floral group known as the "four gentlemen"—plum blossoms, orchids, chrysanthemums, and bamboo—had emerged. Here, in an album that requires six floral subjects, Shitao adds lotus blossoms (leaf 6) and narcissus (leaf 12) to the traditional "four-gentleman flowers."

    The aesthetic pleasure of planting and observing flowers was reinforced by a well-defined set of moral and spiritual associations which were vital in sustaining the morale of Chinese scholars and artists who found themselves in troubled circumstances. The early Northern Song hermit Lin Bu (967–1028), a famous lover of plum blossoms, even fancied himself "betrothed" to the flowering tree. In Nanjing in the 1680s, Shitao went through an intensive period of seeking out plum trees, while he painted their blossoms and wrote poems about them—learning every mood and nuance of that fragrant flower. In this painted leaf, the ancient, gnarled plum branch, delicately rendered in a dry and light shade of ink, is set off against a crisply executed spray of bamboo in the foreground. A faintly visible inkwash applied to the background makes the plum branch and blossoms stand out as if lightly covered with snow under bright sunlight.

    The beauty of the plum painting is so intense that, in Shitao's own words, only the real flowers, when enhanced by the setting sun, can compete with it. Zheng Sixiao, an early fourteenth-century painter who resisted the Mongols, once wrote:

    For dozens of stubborn years,
    I play only with a brush;
    My brush is a rootless flower,
    Yet every day it produces fruits;
    It produces fruits by the thousands and tens of thousands,
    Each one shining as brightly as the crimson sun;
    Day after day I would pick these fruits,
    To offer them as alms to the Buddha of the Ten Directions.

    The calligraphy here, in the manner of Ni Zan (1306–1374), has thinner and more angular strokes than that of the preceding leaf. The wiry brushstrokes echo those of the painting; the calligraphy even imitates the effect of subtly varying ink tones in the painting: the characters grow thinner as the brush dries and then larger as the brush is re-inked. The calligraphy page is signed "Shidaoren" ("Stone, the Daoist"). The oval intaglio seal placed on the signature reads Kugua Heshang, Ji, huafa ("painting method of the Monk of Bitter Melon, Ji"). The square seal Shi Yuanji yin, seen on the preceding calligraphy page, is repeated in the upper right-hand corner of this painting.

    Leaf 3
    On the Mountain Peak

    High on the mountain
      the beautiful colors are cold,
    Where flying white clouds
      cease to look white.

    On this leaf, the master accomplishes the all but impossible task of suggesting the simultaneous effects of wind, movement, and frigid air, and he does so in an unusual way: in his "flying white" calligraphic technique, the ink is dry and thick as if frozen so that the "white" of the paper ceases to "fly" freely through the splitting hairs of the brushstrokes.

    For Shitao, the ultimate mountain scenery was always represented by the incomparable peaks of Mount Huang, the Yellow Mountain, in Anhui Province. By the time he lived there, in the 1660s, he had traveled all over southern China, yet until he saw the massive white clouds moving through the vast "seas" of flowers, trees, jagged cliffs, and blue abysses, he had never felt such infinite space. Here even a life of extreme solitude seemed to have meaning. This group of mountain peaks appears repeatedly in his paintings. As he wrote:

    The Yellow Mountain is my teacher,
    And I am the Yellow Mountain's friend;
    Of nature's myriad different forms,
    The Yellow Peaks leave nothing uncovered …

    The calligraphy echoes the heroic quality of the mountain peaks: it is executed in a bold and powerful style. The brush, with firmly centered tip, bored vigorously into the paper in a manner reminiscent of the style of Yan Zhenqing, the famous Tang master. The calligraphy page is signed "Qingxiang Daoren, Ji" ("The Daoist from Qingxiang, Ji"), followed by the square intaglio seal Shi Yuanji yin. In the upper left-hand corner of the painting, there are two square signature seals, Yuanji (intaglio) and Shitao (relief).

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 4
    Orchids

    Words from a sympathetic heart
      Are as fragrant as orchids;
    Like orchids in feeling,
      They are agreeable and
      always joyous;
    You should wear these orchids
      To protect yourself
      from the spring chill;
    When the spring winds are
      cold,
    Who can say you are safe?

    The first two lines are a quotation from The Book of Changes. Even in the earliest surviving Chinese literature, orchids are identified as junzi, or "virtuous gentlemen." A wild plant that grows in uninhabited mountain valleys, the orchid's fragrance has an aloof and disinterested quality that seems to recall a man of true virtue: it is said that dealing with good and decent people is like entering a room full of orchids; if a person ceases to be aware of the fragrance, it is because he has become such as person. The ancient Chuci ("Songs of the South"), on the other hand, speak of how the fragrant and good are often overwhelmed by the foul and evil:

    Now fragrant and foul are mixed together,
    Who, though he labored all night, could discern between them?
    Why have the sweet flowers died so soon?
    A light frost descended and moved them all down.

    Under the Mongols, Zheng Sixiao (who painted orchids without roots because his "soil had been swept away") once executed a long ink handscroll of orchids, and remarked: "All of them are virtuous gentlemen; no mean-spirited people are allowed!" Shitao, however, held a more generous, and more realistic, view of the world. In his painting, the lovely orchids are shown with two thorny branches—the latter representing the brambles, or "stinking weeds," decried in the Chuci—indicating that in nature the bad is found, and must be accepted together with the good. In this painting, the orchids, symbols of friendship between virtuous men, present almost smiling, welcoming countenances. Only the last line of the poem reminds us of Shitao's ever-present sense of living in precarious times.

    The calligraphy of the poem, in the manner of Zhong You, with its softly undulating strokes and gently rising and fading ink tones, simulates the swaying orchid leaves and blossoms. The poem is signed "Kugua Laoren, Ji" ("Old Man of Bitter Melon, Ji"). The signature is followed by a rectangular intaglio seal, Qian you Longmian, Ji ("before me there was Longmian [Li Gonglin]"). The painting bears the double name seals Yuanji and Shitao.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 5
    A Despondent Man from Qingxiang

    A despondent man from
      Qingxiang
    Passes by looking
      for old friends;
    With no money to buy
      a mountain to live on,
    He sleeps peacefully, pillowing
      his head on his own fist;
    Though he has seen much,
      beyond many rivers and skies,
    He loses his heart to
      the Cun Caoting
      ["Inch-sized Thatched Hut"];
    In a light skiff you and he
      toured together,
    Not even a boatman was present
      to distract you.

    In early 1695, Shitao visited Wuling in Hunan Province—the famous "Peach Blossom Land" of Tao Qian (365–427). On his journey home, he found himself in the Yangzi River village of Baisha, near Yangzhou. There, he visited many famous sights in the company of the calligrapher-poet Xian Zhu and others, and wrote many poems.

    This poem was written right after he arrived in Baisha: originally line 2 read "stops by looking for old friends." The poem seems to have been addressed to the owner of the "Inch-sized Thatched Hut"; Shitao was seeking—in fact, begging for—a place to settle down, but it was not to be. In a note following the poem on this leaf, he explains that he is changing the word ting ("stops") to ke ("passes") because he is on a boat, ready to leave Baisha.

    Shitao often represents himself in a skiff in his paintings, and this is one of the most vivid such presentations. While the poem and the calligraphy reveal the author's heavy heart, the drawing is simple and airy—just another journey, aided by a strong wind. The distant mountains and reeds on the river shores recede swiftly as the man in the boat, the ribbons on his hat flapping in the wind, is swept onward.

    The calligraphy, filling the page in the Zhong You manner, contrasts nicely with the painting's sparseness. The poem is signed "Zhixia ren, Ji" ("man under the single plum branch, Ji," a reference to the old Nanjing residence, Yizhi Ge); the signature is followed by the square intaglio seal Shi Yuanji yin. In the upper right-hand corner of the painting are the double name seals Yuanji and Shitao.

    Visible, in the space below the boat, is the stain of a seal smudged accidentally on the back of the painting.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 6
    Gathering Lotus Flowers

    Fields of flowers and leaves fill
      Ditches full of water,
    A fragrant breeze lingers
      By a boat gathering
      lotus flowers;
    Phrases of a tune mixed
      with the sound of oars
      striking the water,
    Stir the white clouds,
      Setting bits of them afloat.

    This poem was also written while the painter was visiting the village of Baisha. The lotus flower was also thought to possess "gentlemanly" qualities because, in the words of Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073), "How spotlessly it arises from its slimy bed! How modestly it reposes on the surface of the clear pool!" While at Baisha, Shitao went boating with friends in waters full of lotus flowers. The painting supports the lyrical mood of the poem—the shapes of the lotus leaves and petals look like drifting skiffs and floating clouds, and the swaying reeds suggest the movement of "oars striking the water." A heady and unmistakable fragrance seems to emanate from the center of the page, where a large pod, bursting with ripe seeds surrounded by stamens, looks like a giant powder puff.

    Technically, the painting is remarkably simple: delicate line drawings in the "blank-outline" style, occasionally reinforced with darker ink for accent, combine with inkwash applied in intaglio style, the whole suddenly bringing forms into three-dimensional relief. There seems to be a deliberate interplay between the painting and the seals in its upper right-hand corner: the intaglio and relief patterns of the seals are echoed by the contrasting "blank-outlined" (positive, or relief) and inkwashed (negative, or intaglio) areas of the rolled-up leaf in the foreground. Without color (except for the vermilion of the seals), the painting seems to throb with life, and actually feels colorful.

    The calligraphy, in a free Ni Zan manner, is also lyrical in its movements, with fluent and occasionally circular strokes evoking floating clouds and "oars striking the water." The poem is signed "Xiazunzhe, Ji" ("the blind arhat, Ji)", and is followed by the same pair of name seals, Yuanji and Shitao.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 7
    The Wilderness Hut

    A wilderness hut,
      lonely and desolate,
      On a wild mountainside,
    A flowerless old tree
      Leaning over
      the water's edge;
    After supper, I wander here
      Seeking quiet scenery,
    How sad the sunset feels,
      When I am so cold
      and bitter.

    This poem and painting give a picture of the hermit's hard and lonely existence, which Shitao knew well. In a poem dated 1674, Mei Qing described the life of Shitao and Hetao on Jingting mountain in Anhui Province: "The cold wind regularly blows through their thatch-covered walls; when the last scraps of vegetables are finished, they often go hungry." However, although Shitao often grieved and complained in his poems, he never despaired of life, since the hardships he suffered were more than compensated for by the beauty he saw in the world around him. Chan (Zen) Buddhism had taught him self-discipline, and he became all but immune to the threats posed by hardship. In a painting dated 1663, Shitao's fellow Chan priest and painter, Kuncan, explained the chief lesson of Chan, namely, the fortification of one's self: "Buddha was not a lazy fellow … Neither were the Bodhisattvas, nor the sages of kings, Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Confucius. It is because the world today is so full of lazy fellows that families have fallen into disorder, the nation has fallen into disorder, the religious establishments have fallen into disorder. In the words of The Book of Changes, "If Heaven's way is to succeed, everyone must continually strengthen himself, without a moment's indolence [zi qiang bu xi].

    On these pages, the artist's calligraphic brushstrokes again play against those of the painting. In turn, both calligraphy and painting, in describing the misty and rippling effects of river water in the evening, heighten the poem's plaintive tone. As if to increase the emotion of these leaves, the calligraphy affects the Huang Tingjian (later Northern Song) style of throbbing brushstrokes, as well as irregular and asymmetrical characters. The calligraphy page is signed "Shitao Ji," upon which a rectangular intaglio seal is placed: Tou bai yiran bu shi ze ("my hair is white and I am still illiterate"). On the painting, the pair of square name seals Yuanji and Shitao again neatly complete the simple composition.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 8
    Chrysanthemums

    Plum blossoms in October
      Sending forth a cold
      fragrance,
    Are accompanied by
      the late-bloomer, the
      chrysanthemum;
    Since Heaven and Earth
      have no special favorites,
    Will the plum and
      the chrysanthemum
      blossom together
      again in the Spring?

    The chrysanthemum, the favorite flower of the best-known ancient recluse-poet Tao Qian, was the symbol of reclusion (in another Shitao album of this period, now in the Sackler Collection of the Princeton University Art Museum, Tao Qian smells a chrysanthemum). As Shitao prepared to retire, he thought of Tao Qian, just as countless retired poets and painters had before him, and as others would in the centuries to follow.

    Although this poem was written to commemorate an unusual event, the blossoming of plum trees in October, its real subject is the chrysanthemum, which as the perennial late-bloomer symbolizes not only reclusion in itself, but also endurance and integrity, qualities with which the poet would obviously like to identify himself. As his wintry years approached, would there be a second spring, as it were, for the aging artist? The poet's tone is wistfully ironic.

    The calligraphy reverts to the gently nostalgic Zhong You mode of leaf 1. It is signed "Xiazunzhe, Yuanji" ("the blind arhat, Yuanji"), followed by the oval seal Kugua Heshang, Ji, huafa ("painting method of the Monk of Bitter Melon, Ji"). In the lower right-hand corner of the painting, we find the same rectangular intaglio seal seen on the preceding calligraphy page: "my hair is white and I am still illiterate."

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 9
    Late Spring on the Mountain

    New bamboo shoots grow taller
      than the eaves of the house,
    Deep in the morning mist,
      a mountain peak can be seen;
    May in the mountains feels
      like November,
    Leaning on a railing,
      I feel the cold dew
      on my coat and hat.

    This poem may have been written in the 1670s, when Shitao was living in the Anhui mountains. Although the painting does not illlustrate the poem, it does reflect the poet's feelings perfectly: the bare branches seem to be awakening, and the inkwash enveloping the lonely figure makes the damp and chilly mountain almost palpable. This is one of those quiet, almost desultory moments in which our senses are most alert and receptive to the atmosphere around us.

    The painting, which is built up with a series of single brushlines of increasing thickness and intensity, is a perfect illustration of what Shitao meant, in his tract on painting, by yihua, "single-stroke painting." The tiny, spidery calligraphy in the Zhong You manner suits the contemplative mood of the painting. It is signed, "Qingxiang Xiaocheng Ke, Ji" ("followers of Hinayana from Qingxiang, Ji"), followed by the small rectangular intaglio seal Shitao, seen earlier on leaf 1. A complete set of these small seals, reading Shitao and Yuanji, appears at the tip of these branches.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 10
    Bamboo and Dry Branches

    In this picture I follow
      Li Cheng's style of branches
      with a new idea:
    I see a beautiful maiden,
      simple and elegant,
      with only a touch of cosmetics.
    As I try to capture
      her inimitable smile,
    I suddenly realize that I
      shall never entirely succeed.

    Dong Qichang (1555–1636), in formulating the Orthodox "Southern School" theory of painting, wrote: "Some say, 'One should establish one's own style.' But this cannot be. For example … when painting dry branches, one should follow Li Cheng. A thousand years cannot change this. Even if a painter should make his own modifications, he cannot depart from the source. How can anyone put aside the ancient methods and start out on his own?"

    In a colophon dated 1686, Shitao wrote: "In painting, there are the Southern and the Northern schools, and in calligraphy, the methods of the Two Wangs [Wang Xizhi andWang Xianzhi]. Zhang Rong (443–497) once remarked, 'I regret not that I do not share the Two Wangs' methods, but that the Two Wangs did not share my methods.' If someone asks whether I [Shitao] follow the Southern or the Northern School, or whether either school follows me, I hold my belly laughing and reply, 'I always use my own method!'" Thus Shitao makes it quite clear that his real model is nature—the swaying branches that look to him like a "beautiful maiden"—even though he invokes the name of Li Cheng.

    The accompanying calligraphy, a more elegant version of the Ni Zan manner, with elements of the style of the Tang master Li Yong, has the same gaiety and charm as the painting. The calligraphy page is simply signed "Ji," followed by the square intaglio seal Shi Yuanji yin. The painting is stamped with the pair of name seals Yuanji and Shitao seen on the other album leaves.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 11
    Autumn Mountain

    The mountain colors are
      a hoary green, the trees
      are turning autumnal,
    A yellowish mist rises thinly
      against a rushing stream;
    In a traveler's lodge,
      Bitter Melon [Shitao] passes
      his time with a brush,
    His painting method ought
      to put old Guanxiu to
      shame.

    Guanxiu (832–912) was a wandering poet-painter-priest of the war-filled Five Dynasties period. His life had been very much like Shitao's, and he once summed up his experiences in two lines:

    A single water bottle, accompanied by an alms bowl,
    together we grow older and older,
    A thousand mountains and ten thousand waters have
    gone past, again and again.

    This is the only landscape in the album to be fully colored in rust and green (the mountain color of the poem). Despite its small size, the scenery appears truly monumental. Brushstrokes—rock outlines, texture strokes, a running stream, foliage patterns, and "moss dots"—crisscross each other, building and expanding until the whole turns into a powerful flowing design of undulating forces and counterforces.

    In turning his works into abstract designs of brushstrokes and compositional movements, Shitao reflected a major seventeenth-century development: Wang Yuanqi (1642–1715), an Orthodox master, explained that in painting, "one need pay attention only to the 'breath force' and the general outlines of the design. It is not necessary to present beautiful scenery, nor is it important to follow old compositions …" In Shitao's works, however, nature always remained the source of inspiration: "Mountains and rivers compel me to speak for them; they are transformed through me and I am transformed through them." In several large compositions, datable to the late 1690s, Shitao's seal spells out his painting method: "I search out all of nature's extraordinary peaks to be my designs" (Sou jin qi feng da caogao).

    To enhance the hoary and monumental quality of this landscape, the archaic "clerical" script is used. This style of writing, with its severe horizontals and verticals relieved only by flaring slanting strokes, is suitable for formal commemorative inscriptions carved in stone. The calligraphy is signed "Xiazunzhe, Yuanji" ("the blind arhat, Yuanji"), over which the square intaglio seal reads Kugua Heshang ("Monk of Bitter Melon"). The square name seals Yuanji and Shitao appear on the right side of the painting.

    Next Leaf

    Leaf 12
    Narcissus

    Oh narcissus and plum
      blossoms,
      you are enjoyed together by
      us,
    In the wintry months, the two
      of you compete for glory;
    On a warm day
      by a bright window,
      I hold my brush,
    How my quiet thoughts wander
      —beyond the boundless
      shores.

    The symbolism of the narcissus (shuixian, or "water goddess") entered Chinese thought relatively late and was not fully developed until the late Northern Song period. In the late thirteenth century, the Southern Song scholar-painter, and member of the Song imperial clan, Zhao Mengjian (1199–before 1267), popularized it in painting.

    The mood of this last poem is comfortably relaxed. Shitao was fifty-four years old when these album leaves were executed, and he could enjoy observing a narcissus plant in his study and letting his thoughts "wander—beyond the boundless shores." In dramatizing the personal tragedies of the late-Ming Loyalist painters, later poets often pictured them in flights of sorrow: Zheng Xie (1693–1765), for instance, wrote of Kuncan, Zhu Da (Bada Shanren), and Shitao:

    Their nature toppled, their families scattered,
    How their temples had turned white,
    With a bag full of poems and paintings,
    Each of them became a priest;
    Horizontal and vertical,
    Thousands of scrolls they smeared,
    How their inkdots were outnumbered by their teardrops!

    But uncontrolled grief has never been the stuff from which great art is made. For Shitao, though his nature had toppled, his cultural heritage—flowers, mountains, words, and images—had survived and gained renewed vigor through his brush.

    The single narcissus plant on this leaf, though simply done, embodies several brilliant innovations: a faint background wash around the "blank outline," which makes the leaves and blossoms stand out in relief, and the dark and sharp ink strokes accenting the tips of the blossom petals, which are allowed to bleed and thus create a coloristic effect. The simple composition captures wonderfully the fresh vigor of a narcissus in full bloom.

    The calligraphy, in a free and bold manner, combines all of Shitao's favorite idiosyncrasies—wavering strokes, "clerical" flaring endings, deliberately blunt strokes with firmly centered "hidden" brushtip, and irregular compositions—into a highly individual style. It is carried out with as much ease and self-assurance as the simple drawing of the narcissus. The calligraphy is signed "Xiaocheng Ke, Ji" ("follower of Hinayana, Ji") and is followed by the rectangular intaglio seal reading, "my hair is white and I am still illiterate"; the painting is accompanied by the double name seals Yuanji and Shitao.


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