Shih-T'ao

Shih-T'ao

(shûr-tou), 1641–c.1670, Chinese painter of the late Ming–early Ch'ing period, one of the major figures in 17th-century painting. A descendant of the imperial Ming family, he escaped persecution from the invading Manchus by becoming a Buddhist monk with the name Tao-chi. Settling in Yangzhou, he severed his ties to the Buddhist church and became a professional painter and a landscape architect. In his treatise, Hua Yu Lu, he emphasized the importance of the concept of "i hua," or one line, which is variously translatable as line, unity, or a sense of oneness with nature.
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It was also a very visual poetry: in the freshness of its images, I was reminded of Italian primitives, and of artists like Shih-T'ao, Philipp Otto Runge, Samuel Palmer, Cezanne, Max Ernst, and Paul Klee.
Perhaps the turn away from landscape in the work of the most innovative Yangchow painters had to do with developments in this genre during the early Ch'ing dynasty, in particular in the work of Tao-chi (more properly called Yuan-chi or Shih-t'ao).