Fang Shih-shu was born in Anhui province but grew up and worked in Yangchou. He held the sheng-yuan civil service degree and, although generally categorized as a Ch'ing orthodox literati artist, he is well known for his unusual refinement and sensitive brushwork. Fang was also recognized as one of the best poets of his generation as well as a calligrapher.
This rare and exquisite miniature album of twenty-four tiny landscapes and eight leaves of accompanying calligraphy is a masterpiece of the miniature genre. The beautiful and varied landscapes executed in extremely fine brush strokes all depict Buddhist temples, presumably visited by the artist. A work like this, held in the palm of one's hand and enjoyed one leaf at a time, is a far more intimate and personal experience than viewing larger, hanging scrolls meant for public display. The eight calligraphic sheets include original compositions by Fang and his friends as well as stele-inscribed calligraphic masterpieces of ancient Buddhist texts.
The album's exquisitely detailed renditions exemplify the Taoist dictum: to see the large in the small, or as the final inscription here reads: "to view 10,000 miles in less than a foot.