Image: 74 3/8 x 29 1/4 in. (188.9 x 74.3 cm)
Overall: 103 3/4 x 34 1/4 in. (263.5 x 87 cm)
Overall with knobs: 103 3/4 x 38 in. (263.5 x 96.5 cm)
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Not on view
Immensely influential as a painter and art theorist, Dong Qichang is also renowned for his calligraphy, and, together with Xing Tong (1551–1612), Mi Wanzhong (act. ca. 1595–after 1631), and Zhang Ruitu (1570–1614), he is considered one of the Four Masters of the late Ming.
As he did in his painting, Dong drew inspiration for his calligraphy from the ancient masters. Aimed at capturing the spirit rather than the physical likeness of his models, his writing style remained distinctively his own. In contrast to the brusque coarse power displayed by the calligraphy of other late Ming artists, Dong's fluid lines, alternately wet and dry from his constant twisting of the brush tip, possess tremendous grace. Dong wrote out a poem by Wang Wei (700–761):
Among the mountains we bid each other farewell; The sun is setting as I close my bramble gate. Spring grass every year is green; But will the young prince ever return?
Signature: Signed, undated, three artist's seals
Marking: Collectors' seals: Zhu Xingzhai (20th century) Alice Boney John M. Crawford, Jr. Unidentified, 1 seal