January 1, 1864 – Birth of Chinese painter Qi Baishi

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Qi Baishi and His Paintings

Qi Baishi (1 January 1864 – 16 September 1957) was a Chinese painter, noted for the whimsical, often playful style of his watercolor works.

Born to a peasant family from Xiangtan, Hunan, Qi became a carpenter at 14, and learned to paint by himself.

When he came across the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, that sparked his interest to paint.

He did not start learning painting and calligraphy until he was 27. After he turned 40, he traveled, visiting various scenic spots in China. After 1917 he settled in Beijing.

Some of Qi’s major influences include the early Qing dynasty painter Bada Shanren and the Ming dynasty artist Xu Wei.

His pseudonyms include Qí Huáng and Qí Wèiqīng.

The subjects of his paintings include almost everything, commonly animals, scenery, figures, toys, vegetables, and so on.

He theorized that “paintings must be something between likeness and unlikeness, much like today’s vulgarians, but not like to cheat popular people”. In his later years, many of his works depict mice, shrimp or birds.

He was also good at seal carving and called himself “the rich man of three hundred stone seals”.

In 1953, he was elected president of the China Artists Association.

He died in Beijing in 1957.

Tony Simon

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