Orchids, Bamboo, and Rocks

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Orchids, Bamboo, and Rocks (蘭竹石)

Shitao (石濤, 1642-1707), with rocks painted by Wang Hui (王翬, 1632-1717), Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 130 x 56 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

       Shitao arrived in Beijing in 1690 to seek imperial patronage. He soon took Boerdu (1649–1708), great-grandson of the Qing founder Nuerhachi (1559–1626), as his disciple in painting. It was through Boerdu that Shitao contributed to this joint work with the preeminent painter Wang Hui, who left his inscription on the rock. Shitao’s tame representation of bamboo and orchids shows his respect for orthodox courtly taste. In his inscription, written in archaic clerical script, he composed a poem on bamboo and orchids, then added this postscript:

       Mr. Wen [Boerdu] sent me some paper and asked me to paint orchids and bamboo, adding that a master painter would complete the painting with rock images. Therefore I left a blank area for his magical final touch. Submitted for Mr. Wen’s instruction.

Shitao: Orchids, Bamboo, and Rocks