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Painted by Zhu Zhifan (act. early seventeenth century), this depiction of Su Shi (1037–1101) wearing a bamboo hat and wood clogs is based on a chalk draft attributed to Su’s friend Li Gonglin (1040–1106). When Su was exiled to Hainan as an old man, he encountered a rainstorm while visiting a friend and borrowed a bamboo hat and wood clogs from a farmer, who laughed at the sight of the literatus. However, Su was unperturbed by the incident. The image shows him handling adverse circumstances with equanimity. The work became a classic theme for later generations of painters seeking to portray the celebrated figure.
Originally from Jinling (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu Province), Zhu Zhifan was known by his courtesy name (zi) Yuanjie and by the style names (hao) Lanyu and Tingmo Jushi. He made his living with poetry, calligraphy, and painting and was a skilled connoisseur and collector.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu