Reminiscences of Nanjing: Old Gingko at Mt. Chinglong

Artist: Shitao (1642-1707)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1707
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 23.8 x 19.2 cm (9 3/8 x 7 9/16 in)
China, Nanjing
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, ginko tree, mountain, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983). [1]

To 1987
Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York. [2]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler, New York. [3]


[1] See object record.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Zhang Daqian China, 1899-1983
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987


This painting of a lightning-damaged tree that sprouts new growth could easily allude to the artist's personal struggles. He was orphaned as an infant and most of his family was murdered in the turbulent dynastic overthrow that established the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Shitao's father had been a prince of the conquered Ming dynasty (1368-1644). It was expected that, because of his royal ancestry, Shitao would never deign to serve the Qing government. Instead, he became a Buddhist monk and lived for a period in Nanjing, which is the theme of this painting. Both leaves from the album Reminiscences of Nanjing present a memorable image from that locale.

Reminiscences of Nanjing was painted in Shitao's last year, and the paintings and poetry are contemplative, ranging from happy to melancholy thoughts. The strong, blunt strokes and chromatic richness of this tree suggest vitality and survival, an aspect of Shitao's own character. The directness of the visual image and the economy of description are typical of Shitao's new approach in painting. He celebrated a style bursting with energy. His paintings often seem naively simple--even awkward--which was a look he intentionally cultivated to great effect.

Published References
  • Jonathan Hay. Shitao: Painting and Modernity in Early Qing China., reprint. Taibei shi. .
  • Chang Wanli. Shitao shuhua ji [Selected Painting and Calligraphy of Shih-Tao]. multi-volumed, Hong Kong. vol. 4, pl. 95.
  • Richard Edwards. The Paintings of Tao-chi 1641-ca 1720: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Museum of Art, University of Michigan, August 13-September 17, 1967. Exh. cat. Ann Arbor. pp. 44, 94, fig. 19.
  • Richard M. Barnhart. Wintry Forests, Old Trees: Some Landscape Themes in Chinese Painting. Exh. cat. New York. p. 63.
  • Les Trois Reves du Mandarin. Exh. cat. Brussels. cat. 84d, pp. 106-7.
  • Helmut Brinker, Marc Nürnberger. Shitao: Aufgezeichnete Worte des Monchs Bittermelone zur Malerei. Mainz. p. 213.
  • Marilyn Fu, Fu Shen. Studies in Connoisseurship: Chinese Paintings from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections in New York, Princeton, and Washington, D.C., 3rd ed. Princeton, 1973. pp. 302-313.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 206, p. 310.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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