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45) Shen Chou. Bottle Gourd Immortal. Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on paper, dated 1501. Compared to the above work (No. 44), this painting is testimony to the wide range of styles in which Shen Chou worked. This portrait of a Taoist immortal finds its prototype in the Ch'an figure painting of the Southern Sung and early Yuan. But the brushwork and modulated ink washes find parallels in Shen Chou's paintings of plants, flowers, and animals. The . . painting was done as a parting present from Shen to the abbot of a Taoist monastery where Shen had stayed while traveling. Shen's poem at the top of the painting reads:

This carefree immortal, without post or portfolio, makes him home on P'eng-lai Isle and Fang-hu Mountain; Thatch-headed, hair a mess, a jolly face is always his. You ask how he is endowed with understanding so broad and content; it is the bottle gourd -- there he preserves his vitality pristine.

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