by Wu Changshuo (1844-1927)
China, Republic period, 1917
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Freer Gallery of Art
Wu Changshuo was one of the most influential painters, calligraphers, and seal carvers of the modern era. He is especially admired for his calligraphic skills with seal script and running script, both of which are on this scroll. His seal script is based on a famous group of ancient stone inscriptions dating to the fifth century BCE. These “Stone Drum” or “Hunting Stone” inscriptions appear on a set of ten carved granite boulders that are inscribed with a unique form of large-seal script. Rediscovered around the seventh century ce, these highly eroded inscriptions became known to scholars through old rubbings. Wu created this scroll during an intense period of experimentation with stone-drum calligraphy. The comment he added shows the distinct leftward slant that is a hallmark of Wu’s personal approach to running script.
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