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Jingzhou Letter (New window)
Jingzhou Letter
Huang Tingjian (1045-1105), Song dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 31.2 x 43.2 cm

Huang Tingjian (style name Luzhi, sobriquet Fuweng) was a native of Fenning, Jiangxi. Precocious as a youth, he was also very filial. A Presented Scholar (jinshi) of 1067, he excelled at poetry and especially calligraphy. He was particularly good at cursive script, his regular script also in a style of his own.

In the third lunar month of 1095, not long before boarding a boat and leaving Jingzhou, he wrote to Prefect Gongyun asking that he take care. The characters here are forceful and slanting with forms spread out, much in Huang's unique style. The brush method is also steady, except for less rising and falling of the brush, which differs slightly from his large running script. This letter entered the Song and Yuan dynasty imperial repositories and was also later included in "Model Calligraphies of the Sanxi Hall."

 
Colophon (New window)
Colophon
Yang Weizhen (1296-1370), Yuan dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 25.3 x 32.7 cm

Yang Weizhen (style name Lianfu, sobriquet Tiedi daoren), native to Guiji (modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang) was a Presented Scholar (jinshi) of 1327. An honest and upright official, he was set up by adversaries and relieved of office. Later due to civil chaos, he sought refuge in Qiantang and the Fuchun Mountains, where he lived for the rest of his life.

This work is for a catalogue of ancient coins in the collection of a Mr. Yao in Songjiang, being the tenth in an album of various writings by Yuan and Ming dynasty figures. Yang's brush seems to penetrate the paper with vigor, the style wild and eccentric yet pure and brisk, much in the untrammeled and precipitous (Tieyai) style for which he was known. The brushwork is powerful, characters lean with force, and ink ranges considerably in moisture, making this a masterpiece of Yang's late work.

 
Inscription for Gaozong's Imperial Order to Yue Fei (New window)
Inscription for Gaozong's Imperial Order to Yue Fei
Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Ming dynasty
Handscroll, ink on paper, 46.5 x 356.6 cm

Wen Zhengming (native to Changzhou, Jiangsu) excelled at poetry, calligraphy, and painting, being one of the Four Ming Masters. Originally named Bi, he had the style name Zhengming, by which he went later. He also had the names Tingyun sheng and Hengshan jushi. He early followed Song and Yuan dynasty calligraphers, later going back to Jin and Tang masters, and was gifted in all scripts.

A colophon for this work says a Mr. Shen of Wuzhong dug up a stone engraving of an imperial order by the Southern Song emperor Gaozong. Wen Zhengming then wrote an inscription, putting more blame on Gaozong than Prime Minister Qin Kui for the demise of the Song, making for a unique historical opinion. In this work of large characters in running script, the brush force is strong yet free and untrammeled. Though written only a few days before Wen passed away at the Chinese age of 90 by, it is not slacking in the least.

 
Five-character Couplet in Clerical Script (New window)
Five-character Couplet in Clerical Script
Weng Tonghe (1830-1904), Qing dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 146 x 39.8 cm

Weng Tonghe (style name Shuping; sobriquets Songchan and Ping'an jushi), a native of Changshu in Jiangsu, was a Presented Scholar (jinshi) of 1856 and served as imperial preceptor in the Tongzhi and Guangxu reigns. After the Hundred Days' Reform in 1898, he retired and returned home.

Weng was also famous for his calligraphy, learning from the virtues of many masters' styles. This couplet is a collection of characters from the Han dynasty Ritual Vessels Stele. The two scrolls read: "To achieve the joy of Confucius and Yan Hui" "Is to be one's own sovereign." The brushwork is both rounded and angular, the blunt tip strong yet fine. Without extraneous embellishment, the focus is on the brush power and its connections, achieving resonance to and fro.

This work was donated to the National Palace Museum by Messrs. Tann Boyu and Tann Jifu.

 
Seven-character Couplet in Seal Script (New window)
Seven-character Couplet in Seal Script
Wu Changshi (1844-1927), Qing dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 132 x 32.4 cm

Wu Changshi (native to Anji, Zhejiang) originally went by the name Jun and the style names Changshi and Cangshi. He also had the sobriquets Foulu, Kutie, Pohe, Laofou, and Dalong. Wu was leader of the Xiling Seal Carving Society in Hangzhou and a master of painting and calligraphy in the Bronze and Stone School. Widely learned, he specialized in calligraphy related to the Stone Drum script, plumbing the depths of antiquity for innovation and transforming the methods of the ancients. He combined the script forces on bronzes and ceramics from antiquity, creating a strong and forceful style also simple and rich. His bold and moist yet incisive manner rises and falls freely with great power that gives his works unique style and character.

This couplet of auspicious contents is a compilation of characters from the Stone Drum inscriptions. Done in 1927, it is a very late work by Wu from the Chinese age of 84.

This work was donated to the National Palace Museum by Mr. Ts'ai Ch'en-nan.