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With the family name Zhu and a given name Ruoji, Shitao was a descendent of Prince Jingjiang of the imperial clan of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Shitao was quite accomplished in poetry and essays. He was noted for painting orchid, bamboo, and figures. But it was in landscapes that his genius lay. A firm believer in the principle "seek out all exotic mountains and make them parts of drafts", he rejected the contemporary Orthodox style. His paintings feature fresh compositions, vigorous and untrammeled brush strokes. Subjects were often rendered with diverse techniques. For example, to created different types of lines, he used both the middle and the side of the brush tip, or moved the tip either along or against the direction that the shaft was leaning, or fashioned the hair of the brush in a point, or splayed, or blunt. He was also good at using bald, dry, wet, broken, and round (non-angular) strokes. His literary works include Quotations of the Monk Kugua (Kugua heshang huayulu). Shitao, Kuncan (1612-1673), Hongren (1610-1663), and Zhu Da (1626-1705) were collectively honored as the "Four Monks of the Early Qing dynasty".
Shitao executed this ink bamboo as a comparison with that of the Song dynasty bamboo painter Wen Tong, (1018-1079), whose courtesy name was Yuke. The bamboo in this painting is lush and strong, not showing any sign of yielding in a storm. At the end of the scroll, Shitao records in small regular script (xiaokai) the friendship between Yuke and the scholar-official Su Shi (1037-1101). The various script styles which Shitao used on this painting demonstrate his consummate command of calligraphy. At the same time, the incorporation of calligraphy adds literati features to the painting, constituting a rare masterpiece combining painting and calligraphy.
The Palace Museum purchased it from Guardian Auction In the autumn of 1996.