Epitaph for My Nanny in standard script 保母帖

Detail of a pattern
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At A Glance

  • Period

    inscription: 365; rubbing: early 13th century
  • Geography

  • Material

    Ink on paper
  • Dimension

    H x W (rubbing): 31 x 29 cm (12 3/16 x 11 7/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Artist

    Attributed to Wang Xianzhi 王獻之 (344-388)
  • Colophon

    Colophon by Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322)
    Colophon by Guo Tianxi (ca. 1235-ca. 1302)
    Colophon by Chen Conglong (mid-14th century)
    Colophon by Dong Qichang 董其昌 (1555-1636)
    Colophon by Xu Shouhe (1574-after 1646)
    Transcription by Xu Shouhe (1574-after 1646)
    Colophon by Hongli, the Qianlong emperor 乾隆帝 (1711-1799)
  • Provenance

    Zhao Mengfu ??? (1254-1322), method of acquisition unknown [1]
    Guo Tianxi ??? (ca. 1235-ca. 1302), acquired from Zhao Mengfu [2]
    Possibly Gong Benli [unidentified] of Yuzhang [3]
    By 1357-?
    Chen Conglong ??? (active mid-14th century), method of acquisition unknown [4]
    By 1633-?
    Dong Qichang ??? (1555-1636), method of acquisition unknown [5]
    ?-by 1751
    Ownership information unknown
    By 1751-1911
    Qing imperial collection, method of acquisition unknown [6]
    Palace Museum, Peking (now Beijing), China, method of acquisition unknown from the Qing imperial collection [7]
    At least 1979-1980
    Yu Hsieh-chung (1898-1983), method of acquisition unknown [8]
    From 1980
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Yu Hsieh-chung [9]
    [1] In the colophon dated 1292, the famous collector, Guo Tianxi, recounts that he acquired the rubbing in 1289 from Zhao Mengfu. See also the colophon written by Zhao Mengfu, dated 1309. In the colophon dated 1309, Zhao says that Guo kept asking for the object and to make Gou stop, Zhao finally gave it him.
    Zhao Mengfu was the vice minister in the Ministry of War and is considered to be one of the greatest calligraphers of the Yuan dynasty.
    [2] See note 1.
    See also Guo’s collector seals on the object.
    Guo Tianxi was a well-known Chinese writer, painter, and collector of calligraphy.
    [3] According to Chen Conglong’s colophon, “Starting from Zi’ang [Zhao Mengfu], this rubbing has now changed hands four times until coming to Gong Benli [unidentified] of Yuzhang.” See colophon written by Chen Conglong of Changsha, dated 1357.
    [4] See note 3.
    [5] In the colophon written by Dong Qichang dated 1634, he says that he acquired the scroll from a Qin fellow at the entrance to the vegetable market in 1633.
    Dong Qichang was a one of the greatest Ming dynasty calligrapher, painter and art connoisseur. Qichang also served as the Minister of the Board of Rites under Emperor Wanli (1563-1620; reign 1572-1620).
    [6] During the Chien Lung period (1763-1795), this handscroll was in the Qing imperial collection and was included in the “Sanxitang” which presented the finest examples of calligraphy from that collection. See Liang Shizheng ??? (1697-1763) et al., comps. “Yuke Sanxitang Shiqu baoji fatie” ???? ???????. Beijing: Imperial palace, 1751. 2:24a-33a.
    See also colophon by Hongli ??, the Qianlong ?? emperor (1711-1799; reigned 1735-1795) dated 1751 and collector seals.
    The scroll remained in the imperial collection through the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). See the collector seals for Puyi ??, the Xuantong ?? emperor (1906-1967; reigned 1908-1912).
    [7] According to inventories, the scroll was in the Palace Museum in Peking (now Beijing) until 1921, when it was "borrowed" together with several other works by a high official named Chu. They were returned in 1922. See curatorial remark by Thomas Lawton and Fu Shen, dated 1979, copy in object file, p. 3.
    [8] See collector seal 4.
    See also incoming receipt, dated August 29, 1970, copy in object file. The object was transferred from Professor H. C. Yu to the Freer Gallery of Art for acquisition consideration on August 29, 1970.
    Professor Yu Hsieh-chung, also known as H.C. Yu, was a Chinese-American professor of history who had studied at Harvard University and taught history in Tianjin, China. Yu had at least two sons -- Ying-shih Yü ??? (1930-2021) and Paul Yu ??? (1941-2016). Ying-shih Yü’s mother, Chang Yun-ching, died while giving birth to him, however, he later remarried a Mrs. Yu Ya-yen. Yu also had a sister that resided in the Anhui province. In 1949 or 1950, Yu relocated to Hong Kong with his sons before moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan several years later. Both of Yu’s sons pursued career in academia. His elder son, Ying-shih Yü, became a renowned professor and scholar of Chinese history at Princeton University (1987-2001). Paul Yu was an academic administrator and served as the President of the State University of New York College at Brockport (1997-2004).
    [9] See also object file for copy of H. C. Yu of Ann Arbor, Michigan, invoice to Freer Gallery of Art, dated October 23, 1980, and marked approved on October 26, 1979.
    Research updated February 21, 2023
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Writing, Carving and Rubbing: China’s Calligraphic Arts (April 4 to October 25, 2009)
    Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy (June 7, 1994 to March 20, 1995)
    From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy (July 28, 1986 to February 6, 1987)
    Chinese Calligraphy (May 9, 1980 to November 14, 1980)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322)
    Guo Tianxi (ca. 1235-ca. 1302)
    Gong Benli
    Chen Conglong (mid-14th century)
    Qing imperial collection
    The Palace Museum, Beijing
    Mr. Hsieh-chung Yu 余協中 (1898-1983)
  • Origin

  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Regents' Collections Acquisition Program
  • Type

  • Restrictions and Rights

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