Reminiscences of Nanjing : Cliff-Bordered Moon

Artist: Shitao (1642-1707)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1707
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 23.8 x 19.2 cm (9 3/8 x 7 9/16 in)
China, Jiangsu province, Yangzhou
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, moon, 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


Shitao was a brilliantly innovative and versatile painter. This image and Washing the Inkstone (see S1987.204.5) are from an album he created in the last year of his life, presenting recollections of experiences in Nanjing as a Buddhist monk. Several of the works in the album hint at approaching death or angst, but others express happy memories.

Shitao was born into a princely line of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), but when he was three, his parents were slaughtered during the dynasty's fall. Shitao was taken to a Buddhist monastery, where he was raised with his true identity concealed. His royal lineage posed a dilemma for him as he matured, because Confucian tradition instructed that he should remain loyal to the defunct dynasty and avoid the new political order. Thus Shitao lived much of his life as a reclusive Buddhist monk, though he often longed for wider social interactions. He eventually used his painting talent as a means to interact with the elite of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).

This painting reveals a new style of direct boldness and blunt brushwork that reflects Shitao's unbridled creative powers; however, his repeated subject choice of walled-in, remote retreats probably arose from feelings of melancholy.

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.
  • 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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