Shitao frequently employed the album format to give full play to his imaginative use of brush techniques and compositional designs. In this series of eight leaves, datable stylistically to the last decade of the artist's life, he explores the theme of landscape. Working in a free, wet-ink manner, Shitao reveals his independence from conventional models and methods in these highly personal images. As he observed in his Recorded Sayings on Painting of about 1700:
Even if my brush does not resemble brush and my ink does not resemble ink and my painting does not resemble painting, I make sure that my self is always present in my work.
(Wen Fong, trans.)
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Signature: Signed, undated, ten artist's seals: a) Signature: Xiaochengke (Hinayana Disciple) Seal: Qianyu longmian Ji, Toubai yinran bushi zi Inscription: Green mountains, peaceful rain penetrates the vague distance b) Signature: Dadidau Ji Seal: Shuzhun Zhang Yuan c) Signature: Lingding Laoren Inscription: The homecomer's road forks and descends to the level stream d) Signature: Dadizi Seal: Qizhue Inscription: The painting summons dreams of a small skiff, All night the sound of the river shakes a traveller's bed. E) Signature: Dadizi Seal: Qianyu longmian Qi Inscription: Don't think that Peach Spring contains the dusty world; The brush tip flies from Wuyi's torrent. F) Signature: Qingxiang laoren Seal: Qianyu longmian Qi Inscription: On far mountains and near mountains green shadows drip from big trees and small trees leaves are already scattered. G) Signature: Dadizi Seal: one, unidentified Inscription: My eyes are dimmed from the riverbank; The leaves of the trees are flying. H) Signature: Dadizi
Marking: Collectors' seals: Zhang Daqian (1899–1983), 12 seals John M. Crawford, Jr., 2 seals
a) Zhang Daqian, 2 seals: Zhang Yuan; Daqian-? b) Zhang Daqian c) Yuan (Zhang Daqian) d) Zhang Daqian, 2 seals: Zhang Yuan yin; Daqian zhushi e) Zhang Daqian: Zhang yuan zhiyin f) Zhang Daqian, 2 seals, one of Daqian in oracle bone script. g) Zhang Daqian
John M. Crawford Jr. , 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.