Art/ Collection/ Art Object

清 朱耷 (八大山人) 李治書 扇頁
Letter by Li Zhi

Artist:
Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) (Chinese, 1626–1705)
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
dated 1702
Culture:
China
Medium:
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on paper
Dimensions:
6 3/4 x 19 1/2 in. (17.1 x 49.5 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
1989.363.139
Not on view
In 1693 Zhu Da began studying works from the Chunhuage tie, a collection of rubbings of early calligraphies compiled in 992. This fan transcribes on piece from that collection, a letter from Li Zhi, who later became the emperor Tang Gaozong (r. 650–83). Zhu Da's writing freely departs from Li Zhi's original: done with plump "centered-tip" brushstrokes, Zhu's characters possess a simple, unaffected archaic flavor that is unmistakably his own.

Zhu Da's transcription of Li Zhi's letter reads: Uncle, you possess a great many artistic talents and you are an outstanding, compassionate teacher. Your son Ai has thus received an exemplary education and he is receptive and diligent, especially in calligraphy. When I heard that he had lately become particularly fond of the "Flying white" technique, I playfully took up my brush to amuse him. What I wrote is far from the graceful forms of the Six Calligraphic Modes and remiss in elegant diction. Yet, soon afterward I received your letter in which you so generously praised my work. In truth, the work is mere "ink traces" and does not deserve such attention. Reading your letter repeatedly only added to my embarrassment.
Signature: Signed, dated 1702, one artist's seal: Shide

Inscription:
Uncle, (you) have much talent in the arts, with
respect to you (your)
children's art education (you are) compassionate and
give fine
guidance. (Ai in response) to your teaching is
receptive and
diligent, especially in calligraphy. I heard of his
interest in
the "flying-white" technique. Playfully, I wrote one
to amuse him.
(I am) far from mastering the excellence of the Six
Calligraphic
modes and remiss in elegant diction. Surprisingly,
(I) received your
letter in which you so generously praised my work.
Thinking of my
rough inscription, I dare not face such acclaim.
Reading (your letter)
repeatedly only added to my embarrassment.

Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (25 columns in semi-cursive script)

Uncle [you] have much talent in the arts. With respect to [your] children’s art education [you are] compassionate and give fine guidance. [Ai in response] to your teaching is receptive and diligent, especially in calligraphy. I heard of his interest in the “flying-white” technique. Playfully, I wrote one to amuse him. [I am] far from mastering the excellence of the Six calligraphic modes and remiss in elegant diction. Surprisingly [I] received your letter in which you so generously praised my work. Thinking of my rough inscription, I dare not face such acclaim. Reading [your letter] repeatedly only added to my embarrassment.[1] On the Center Firmament Festival [on the fifth of the fifth lunar month] of the renwu year [1702] I made this copy for Wenyu for his correction. Bada Shanren

藝韞多材,慈深善誨,夙奉趨庭之訓,早擅臨池之工。聞其比來復愛飛白,昨故戲操翰墨,慙六文之麗則,異五際之芳詞。忽枉來書,談飾過實,顧唯菲跡,非敢當仁,披覽循環,祇以增愧。壬午天中節臨,為文玉年道兄正字。八大山人

Artist’s seal

拾得

Collectors’ seals

Ouyang Zhaoxiong 歐陽兆熊 (1807–?)
歐陽潤生珍藏

Tan Shang 譚墒 (18th–19th c.)
譚觀成印

Zhu Pu 朱樸 (1902–1970)
朱省齋書畫記

Pang Nai 龐耐 (Alice Boney, 1901–1988)
龐耐

Gu Luofu 顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford, Jr., 1913–1988)
顧洛阜
漢光閣

[1] Trans. from Tseng Yu-ho Ecke, Poetry on the Wind: The Art of Chinese Folding Fans from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Exhibition catalogue. Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 1982, cat. no. 59, p. 118-19.
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