Couplet in standard script

Artist: Hua Shikui (1864-1942)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, 1941
Pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
H x W (image [each]): 176 x 44.5 cm (69 1/4 x 17 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scrolls (pair)

autumn, China, couplet, Modern period (1912 - present), Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, spring, standard script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Well known for following the style of the great Tang dynasty calligraphy master Yan Zhenqing (709-785), Hua Shikui's standard script is monumental and imposing. The artist wrote this couplet at the age of seventy-seven to present to his close friend Xiting. The text ponders their shared professional and leisure interests and their fascination with ancient inscriptions, including those on musical instruments of the Bronze Age (circa 2000-500 B.C.E.).

From green spring to hoary autumn, we enjoyed our words and laughter;
Ritual bronzes and stone chimes, we vied to compile and copy.

Adapted from translation by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Joseph Chang, Stephen Allee. Brushing the Past: Later Chinese Calligraphy from the Gift of Robert Haftield Ellsworth. Exh. cat. Washington. .
  • Thomas Lawton Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 256-261.
  • Robert Hatfield Ellsworth. Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: 1800-1950., 1st edition. New York. pp. 324, 180.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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