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Calligraphy

Five-character Couplet in Seal Script
Ch'i Pai-shih (1863-1957), Republican Period
Hanging scrolls, ink on paper, 183 x 45.4 cm

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Ch'i Pai-shih originally went by the name Ch’un-chih, but later changed it to Huang. He also had the style name P’ing-sheng and the sobriquet Pai-shih. A native of Hsiang-t’an in Hunan province, he studied carpentry as a youth and excelled at wood sculpture. At 26, he began to study calligraphy, painting, poetry, and seal carving. Later, in his sixties, he set up residence in Peking, selling paintings and carving seals for a living. He also taught at the Peking Art Academy.

This pair of scrolls transcribes a couplet composed of two lines in five characters each. The poetry reads, “A group gathers at the mountain for longevity, often appearing with cranes together.” His seal script was influenced by the study of ancient rubbings and inscriptions of the Chou, Ch’in, and Han dynasties, especially those carved on stone stelae, such as the “San-kung-shan” and the “T’ien-fa shen-ch’en”. The brushwork here is stable and strong, exhibiting the confidence of a mature and gifted calligrapher and probably representing a late work by the artist.

This couplet was donated to the National Palace Museum by Mr. Ts'ai Chen-nan.
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