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The Last Stroke of Literati Painting: A Special Exhibition of Painting and Calligraphy by Pu Hsin-yu

  • #Calligraphy
  • #Painting


  Pu Ru (sometimes spelled Puru; 1896-1963) was often known by his style name Hsin-yu and also had the sobriquet Xishan yishi. A descendant of Yixin (1833-1898), Prince Gong, a prominent ruling member, he later frequently used the seal "Jiuwang sun," or "Scion of a former prince," on his works. In his early years, he lived as a recluse at Jietai Monastery in Xishan (the Western Hills), where he studied and did painting. He returned to Beiping (Beijing) when he was nearly thirty and took part in various art circles, becoming known with Chang Dai-chien as "Pu of the North and Chang of the South." In 1949, he went to Taiwan and taught at National Taiwan Normal University. He also taught at home and traveled to various places, such as Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, to give lectures; his poetry, painting and calligraphy were admired by many.

  Pu Hsin-yu learned painting and calligraphy by himself from the large collection of ancient artworks in the family collection. In calligraphy, he took the regular script of "Stele for Chan Master Guifeng Dinghui" by Pei Xiu (791-864) of the Tang dynasty as his foundation. And in painting, he studied the styles of the Southern Song artists Ma Yuan (fl. 1190-1224) and Xia Gui (fl. 1195-1224) as well as of Ming dynasty artists in the Zhe School. Incorporating all of their features, he developed a pure and elegant as well as pleasing and beautiful manner. Whether it be running, cursive, seal, or clerical script calligraphy or landscape, architectural, figure, bird-and-flower, or animal painting, Pu Hsin-yu excelled in each to become a truly all-around traditional painter-calligrapher.

  The artwork of Pu Hsin-yu has been called "The last stroke of literati painting." Though many admire the Three Perfections of his poetry, painting, and calligraphy, he actually saw himself as more of a scholar and encouraged students to first become proficient in poetry and calligraphy. In fact, many of his own paintings derive from Chinese literature, though both the subjects and forms of his works have a fresh and innovative viewpoint. After arriving in Taiwan, he sketched many records of scenery and facets of the island, and he frequently wrote long inscriptions on them to express his deep and lasting impressions.

  This exhibition features a selection of Pu Hsin-yu’s painting and calligraphy from his Cold Jade Hall works entrusted to the National Palace Museum along with other works from the Museum collection. The display is divided into five sections: "Linking Past and Present," "Untrammeled Ink of the Western Hills," "Records of the Unusual in Painting," "Selected Facets of Formosa," and "Seals Used by Pu Ru." Accompanied by a multimedia presentation, this exhibit concretely demonstrates the art and ideas of the "last literati artist," Pu Hsin-yu.

Publication: The Last Stroke of Literati Painting: A Special Exhibition of Painting and Calligraphy by Pu Hsin-yu