A scion of a branch of the Ming imperial family, Bada Shanren became a "crazy" Buddhist monk, feigning deafness in order to escape persecution after the Ming dynasty fell to Manchu conquest in 1644. Like his cousin Shitao (Zhu Ruoji), he became an extraordinary painter, known for an expessionist calligraphic style.
In these album-size landscapes, Bada has adopted traditional themes and compositions as points of departure for his own creative improvisations. In several leaves, the sparse composition, dry brushwork, and carefully selected motifs—bare trees and an empty pavilion—allude to the late Yuan hermit-artist Ni Zan (1306–1374). Elsewhere, diagonally receding mountain masses made of simplified ovoid and cone-shaped rock forms derive from the landscape style of Dong Qichang (1555–1636). In each case, however, Bada transmuted his models, playing with spatially ambiguous patterns or adding human figures or color when least expected.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Artist’s inscriptions and signatures (1 column in semi-cursive script on each of the ten leaves)
Painted by Bada Shanren. [Leaf A, B, C, E, F, H, J]
Bada Shanren [Leaf I, K]
Twelve paintings done on the solstice day of the jimao year , Bada Shanren. [Leaf L]
Bada Shanren 八大山人 [on each leaf]
Chu Deyi 褚德彜 (1871–1942), 1 column in clerical and 2 columns in standard script, dated 1931; 1 seal: