Selected Calligraphies from the Suzhou Museum
Achievements cannot be made without efforts in terms of calligraphy. Various styles have come into existence during the process of achieving a high mastery of this skill.
Since the art of calligraphy rose at the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, great masters have appeared in the past long period of time. In the Eastern Han dynasty, Zhang Zhi was greatly admired, while in the Three Kingdoms Zhong You of the Wei Kingdom. At the end of the Jin dynasty, Wang Xizhi and his son Wang Xianzhi dominated the calligraphic circle. At the beginning of the Tang dynasty, Ouyang Xun, Yu Shinan, Chu Suiliang and Xue Ji inherited the tradition of the past dynasties and set an example for the later generations, and managed to combine the features of both North China and South China. Later Yan Zhenqing and Liu Gongquan excelled in regular script, while Zhang Xu and the monk Huaisu cursive script. In the Song dynasty, Emperor Taizong ordered the official of the Imperial Academy Wang Zhu carve a collection of model calligraphies on steles, which made the calligraphy of Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi mainstream. Later, the four renowned calligraphers of the Song dynasty, namely, Su Shi, Huang Tingjian, Mi Fu and Cai Xiang, and Zhao Mengfu of the Yuan dynasty, together with Zhu Yunming, Wen Zhengming and Dong Qichang of the Ming dynasty, all became their inheritors.
To sum up, artists of the Jin dynasty pursued the poetic charm of calligraphy, while those of the Tang dynasty advocated squareness and uprightness of characters. Artists of the Song dynasty admired aesthetic appreciation of calligraphy, while those of the Yuan and Ming dynasty paid more attention to formation of characters. The copies of the Tang and Song dynasty, though having made great contributions to the development of calligraphy, it is evitable that the charm of the authentic version has gradually lost after many times of reproduction both on paper and on steles. Since the Qing dynasty, Emperor Qianlong tried to keep all the authentic versions to himself, which made scholars hardly had the chance for a review. It was due to this reason that led to the rise of stele inscription. Calligraphers combined different scripts, such as regular script, official script and seal script, with the art of engraved inscriptions on bronze and stele to bring in new fashions. The calligraphers made the greatest achievements in official and seal script, and followed Bao Shichen and Kang Youwei’s calligraphic theories to the most. All of these made an utter change to the stele inscription.
Though not lack in excellent works of art, most of the calligraphies collected by the Suzhou Museum were passed down from the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasty. This exhibition selects works of over thirty calligraphers since the Yuan and Ming dynasty in various forms and scripts. We hope they will be of interest and benefit to the visitors.