Searching for Immortals (尋仙圖)
Shitao (石濤, ca. 1642-1707), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Album of eight leaves, ink and colors on paper, 18.3 x 27.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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.