Painter, Visual Artist
1642 – 1707
Who was Shitao?
Born in Quanzhou County in Guangxi province, Shi Tao was a member of the Ming royal house. He narrowly avoided catastrophe in 1644 when the Ming Dynasty fell to invading Manchurians and civil rebellion. Having escaped by chance from the fate to which his lineage would have assigned him, Shi Tao assumed the name Yuanji Shi Tao no later than 1651 when he became a Buddhist monk.
He moved from Wuchang, where he began his religious instruction, to Anhui in the 1660s. Throughout the 1680s he lived in Nanjing and Yangzhou, and in 1690 he moved to Beijing to find patronage for his promotion within the monastic system. Frustrated by his failure to find a patron, Shi Tao converted to Daoism in 1693 and returned to Yangzhou where he remained until his death in 1707.