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.
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清 石濤 (朱若極) 楷書七律五首 折扇
Artist:Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707)
Period:Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Medium:Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on paper
Dimensions:6 7/8 x 17 1/2 in. (17.5 x 44.5 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Inscription: Artist’s inscription (30 columns in standard script)
The cold oppresses my thatched hut; the snow oppresses the poor. Without food and drink what can one offer to the grain deity? Scorning the world, one can visit old friends; To suppress hunger, one anticipates the new spring. Time breaks my decayed wooden body and I’m oblivious to fatigue. When once I’ve laughed in the deserted hills, the anger leaves my body. So clumsy and negligent in daily matters, At home only with the inkstone behind the closed door.
The snowstorm runs wild, collapsing the fence, the bamboo grove and crushing the gate. Firewood soon exhausted, a few grains keep [me] alive. Yet, writing words, trimming verses and painting the broken landscapes that lie behind the woodcutter, The nights in the empty hall are bright as day. Lost and mournful by the side of a plum tree in this isolated village.
The snowstorm rushes cold, and dust reaches the sky. [Your] departure from [our] poetry group leaves me idle. [May you] be cheerfully directed with the horse whip to the little house with blossoming plum trees, And down from [your] horse inquire for a wine-inn, On the morning road [you] watch the vanishing river banks; On the evening road, sunset over the mists at the station-pavilion. I know wherever you go, your poems are inscribed on walls. Your verses soar up into the clouds, in the company of the immortal poet Li Bai (701‒762).
[Above is] “Farewell to Mei Ouchang [Mei Geng梅庚, 1640‒1722] who is returning to Xuancheng”
Writing seal script as in sand, don’t be surprised that it may descend from the blue yonder. A poet need not regret his forever unusual delusions. [With this brush] flower sprays in dreams grow as snow falls. On the riverfront, pondering verses against the wind. The lines in array, some with draft script, And words, dotted as flying geese. Since the past, the utterance is related to the goose, Let the inscription of [Wang] Xizhi be next to the cage.
[Above is] “Composed in the rhyme of the Reed-brush poem”
The barge connects the red bridge with the path at Leitang [in modern Yangzhou] Where ten years of the past evoke recollections. A poem just completed in your memory. [We are] like drifting duckweed on water, constantly missing one another. The selected classical literature is composed on lofty buildings in a big city. The brilliant stars shine upon a glorious writing brush. A scholar may carry his finest arrow for the hunt, Without meeting a ruling sovereign, he may never acquire recognition.
[Above is] “Mail from the riverboat at the capital”
Five old poems of mine, presented to Fusi [Wang Zhaozhang 汪兆璋, 2nd half 17th c.] for his guidance. [Signed] Dadizi, Ji
舊作五首呈芾斯年道長博教。大滌子濟 [Translated by Tseng Yu-ho Ecke, modified. Ecke, Tseng Yu-ho. Poetry on the wind: the art of Chinese folding fans from the Ming and Chʻing dynasties. Modified. Exh. cat. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1981, p. 129, cat. no. 64.]
Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988) Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 Hanguang Ge 漢光閣
John M. Crawford Jr. American, New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)
Providence. Bell Gallery, List Art Center. "The Individualists: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy of the 17th Century from the Collection of John M. Crawford, Jr.," April 26, 1980–May 18, 1980.
Honolulu Academy of Arts. "The Art of Chinese Folding Fans in the Ming and Qing Dynasties," January 16, 1982–February 16, 1982.
Saint Louis Art Museum. "The Art of Chinese Folding Fans in the Ming and Qing Dynasties," June 22, 1982–August 22, 1982.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "The Art of Chinese Folding Fans in the Ming and Qing Dynasties," 1982.
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago. "The Art of Chinese Folding Fans in the Ming and Qing Dynasties," 1983.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23–August 16, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Companions in Solitude: Reclusion and Communion in Chinese Art," July 31, 2021–August 14, 2022.
Weng, Wan-go, and Thomas Lawton. Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: A Pictorial Survey: 69 Fine Examples from the John Crawford, Jr. Collection. New York: Dover Publications, 1978, cat. no. 62.
Suzuki Kei 鈴木敬, ed. Chûgoku kaiga sogo zuroku: Daiikan, Amerika-Kanada Hen 中國繪畫總合圖錄: 第一卷 アメリカ - カナダ 編 (Comprehensive illustrated catalog of Chinese paintings: vol. 1 American and Canadian collections) Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1982, p. 109, cat. no. A15-060.
Shih Shou-ch'ien, Maxwell K. Hearn, and Alfreda Murck. The John M. Crawford, Jr., Collection of Chinese Calligraphy and Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Checklist. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1984, p. 46, cat. no. 161.
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