Boating on a willow stream
Shitao, original name Zhu Ruoji, is known by many other names, including Dadizi and Kugua Heshang. A descendant of the Ming imperial family, he fled to become a monk after the fall of the dynasty and was thus later known as one of the Four Monks. During his sojourn in Anhui province, he befriended Mei Qing, who had a great impact on Shitao's early landscapes, and it was during this time that he became adept at painting Mount Huang. Settling in Yangzhou in his later years, he became a close friend of another of the Four Monks, Zhu Da, and his works exerted a significant influence on the Yangzhou School of Painting. Shitao attained a wonderful versatility in his paintings, which are characterised by vigorous and powerful images with an extraordinary degree of individuality.
This hanging scroll is primarily painted using wet ink to depict a scene of a stream with willows along its banks. Ink dots of various tones are scattered in size and location, an effect that creates a moist and misty atmosphere that is typical of Shitao's style. Like many of his other paintings, this work suggests the forthrightness of Shitao's character that finds expression in his vigorous and bold brushwork.