Searching for Immortals, Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707), Album of eight leaves; ink and color on paper, China

清 石濤(朱若極) 山水圖 冊
Searching for Immortals

Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707)
Inscribed by Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707)
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Album of eight leaves; ink and color on paper
5 7/8 x 10 3/4 in. (14.9 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
Not on view
Having lived as an itinerant monk nearly his entire life, Shitao decided in 1696 to shed his Buddhist garb, end his peripatetic life, and build himself a home in the prosperous commercial center of Yangzhou, where he supported himself through his painting. In this album, painted not long after Shitao settled in Yangzhou, the artist has drawn for inspiration on his own lifetime of wandering. We feel the painter's presence in each of the images as he explores the themes of traveling and dwelling among mountains and lakes.
Inscription: Artist’s inscriptions

LEAF A: 2 columns in standard script

Don’t boast that Lake Ze is as vast as heaven,[1]
Resembling a blank mirror every day.


LEAF B: 1 column in semi-cursive/standard script

Who really understands my music?[2]


LEAF C: 2 columns in standard script

After several li there is no more path;
A thousand peaks hide an enclosure.


LEAF D: 1 column in standard script



LEAF E: 7 columns in standard script

The gifted scholar who gazes over the lake is like an immortal from east of the river;
He follows in the footsteps of Dongfang Manqian [Dongfang Shuo, 161/162–93 B.C.].


LEAF F: 1 column in standard script

Qingxiang laoren


LEAF G: 3 columns in standard script

I spent my energy searching for the abode of the immortals;
Now I am deep in the blue-green bluffs.


LEAF H: 3 columns in semi-cursive/standard script

On the Southern Lake, mist and waves form a vast expanse; ducks and small birds fly as high as the clouds. There is a great area of water in Xuanzhou, and I often go there to look at it. I chanced to paint the gist of it. Dadizi


Artist’s seals:

清湘石濤 (Leaf A, B, F)
零丁老人 (Leaf C)
清湘老人 (Leaf D)
阿長 (Leaf E)
元濟 (Leaf G)
苦瓜 (Leaf G)
前有龍眠濟 (Leaf H)
癡絕 (Leaf H)

Collectors’ seals:

Wu Ju’ao 吳居澳 (1728–1785)
吳氏鏡泉珍賞 (Leaf A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H)

Chen Rentao 陳仁濤 (active mid-20th c.)
金匱寶藏,陳氏仁濤 (Leaf A, B)
金匱室 (Leaf C, H)
仁濤 (Leaf D)
陳仁濤 (Leaf E, G)
陳仁濤珍藏印 (Leaf F)

Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988)
顧洛阜 (Leaf G)
漢光閣 (Leaf G)
漢光閣主顧洛阜鑑藏中國古代書畫之章 (Leaf H)

[1] Lake Ze is an alternative name for Lake Tai on the lower Yangzi delta.

[2] Translations of the artist’s inscriptions on leaves B through H are from Aschwin Lippe’s entry in Laurence Sickman et al. eds, Chinese Calligraphy and Painting in the Collection of John M. Crawford, Jr. New York: The Pierpont Morgan Library, 1962, no. 79, pp. 161-62.
John M. Crawford Jr. , New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)