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明/清 朱耷(八大山人) 致方士琯書 冊 紙本
Letters to Fang Shiguan

Artist:
Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) (Chinese, 1626–1705)
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
datable to ca. 1688–1705
Culture:
China
Medium:
Album of ten leaves; ink on patterned and plain paper
Dimensions:
Image (leaf a, right letter): 7 3/4 x 5 7/16 in. (19.7 x 13.8 cm) Image (leaf a, left letter): 7 1/4 x 4 9/16 in. (18.4 x 11.6 cm) Image (leaf b, right letter): 7 1/2 x 5 3/16 in. (19.1 x 13.2 cm) Image (leaf b, left letter): 7 x 4 9/16 in. (17.8 x 11.6 cm) Image (leaf c, right letter): 7 1/2 x 5 3/16 in. (19.1 x 13.2 cm) Image (leaf c, left letter): 7 1/4 x 4 9/16 in. (18.4 x 11.6 cm) Image (leaf d, right letter): 7 1/2 x 5 3/16 in. (19.1 x 13.2 cm) Image (leaf d, left letter): 7 1/4 x 4 9/16 in. (18.4 x 11.6 cm) Image (leaf e, right letter): 7 5/8 x 5 3/16 in. (19.4 x 13.2 cm) Image (leaf e, left letter): 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (18.4 x 12.1 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
Gift of John M. Crawford Jr., 1982
Accession Number:
1982.458a–e
Not on view
The tradition of collecting personal letters dates back nearly two millennia in China. It was believed that the intimate space of the letter encouraged a sense of freedom and openness in calligraphers, and the resulting calligraphy was often treasured as a true expression of the artist’s spirit. This album is a collection of letters written by the great painter and calligrapher Zhu Da to his close friend Fang Shiguan (1650–ca. 1711). Fang must have saved them as treasured traces of a friend and gifted artist. At some point, they were mounted together as an album. The letters concern four areas of Zhu’s life: his health; meetings with Fang; exchanges of favors and small gifts; and painting, including both the viewing of other artists’ works and the selling of his own.
Inscription: Artist’s inscriptions and signatures[1]

Leaf A (7 columns in semi-cursive script)

The Buddhist scriptures are what I’ve always wanted. I am abashed by such a gift that feels like coming from heaven. I haven’t even seen your paintings yet. Surely I will be delighted upon seeing them. Bada Shanren bows to Mr. Xicheng [Fang Shiguan] on the 25th of the ninth lunar month.

内典心期,天人愧事,何異此天賜也。畫一且未見,面見一喜可知也。西城先生,八大山人頓首,九月廿五日。

Leaf AA (7 columns in semi-cursive script):

I have recently painted for the venerable Mr. Shen Ping. Now I will paint these five works in uncharacteristic styles. Despite a sore, my right hand feels no fatigue. Many people appreciate my works, but how should I respond to old Yuan? I hope to meet with you when I have some free time. Bada Shanren bows in reply to his bosom friend Mr. Xi [Fang Shiguan].

頃為沈年翁屏作畫,當破格寫此五副也。叔痤右手不倦,賞臣者多已,然何以復我遠翁?少暇圖晤。復上西翁先生知己,八大山人頓首。

Leaf B (6 columns in semi-cursive script):

A guest from Jianning [in Fujian province] gave us two bottles of bean-curd cheese, which tastes better than dry meat. When taken with Longnan, it is particularly delicious. Don’t give it away in exchange for something that seems more valuable, but keep it with a smile. To Mr. Xi and your son. Bada Shanren bows on the 27th day [of the month].

客有從建寧來者,分惠豆乳二小缻子,視蘭脯為佳,龍南並進,尤堪一筯。此必非將蝦釣鯉之為也,祈莞存之。西翁先生,廿七日上。八大山人頓首。令郎均此。

Leaf BB (7 columns in semi-cursive script):

For the past thirty years, salt and vinegar have been just what I don’t have enough. I am deeply grateful for your kind help. How are things in Huangshan? My brush and ink haven’t yet been able to give life to it. Here I return the six leaves to you, plus an additional one, for your approval. To Mr. Lucun [Fang Shiguan]. Bada Shanren bows in reply on the twelfth day of the tenth lunar month.

卅年來恰少鹽醋,承惠深謝。黃山中如何?筆墨未可為供養也。六紙還上,外一副呈正。十月十二日復上鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首。

Leaf C (7 columns in semi-cursive script, 1699?):

I couldn’t make it for the flower-viewing (?) we agreed upon when we last met. And the following day, I was invited by a friend to a musical performance in the Puhui Tang Hall. How about choosing another day? Bada Shanren bows in reply to Mr. Lucun on the 17th of the intercalary month.[2]

面訂既弗采班,翊日轉爲簫曲,友人約往普惠堂,尊命異日何如?八大山人頓首復上鹿邨先生,閏十七日。

Leaf CC (9 columns in semi-cursive script):

I haven’t been able to thank you in person for your kindness. I caught a cold from the strong wind the other day, and could not urinate or defecate. By last night I only managed to excrete a few drops and could not sleep well. I am barely hanging on to life. Could you get me a few prescriptions whose efficacy has been proved? To Mr. Lucun. Bada Shanren bows in multiple illnesses on the sixth of the eighth lunar month.

承顧未得面謝。弟以前日大風,感冒風寒,大小便閉塞。至昨晚小便少得涓滴,而未可安眠也,性命正在呼吸攝生,已騐之方,揀示一二為望。鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首,八月六日力疾上。

Leaf D (7 columns in semi-cursive script):

Lately I have been terribly busy, so it is hard to find time to meet. Do you have time to spare now? I miss you very much. When you are free, I would love to see you. All is well, like in those days under [the legendary sage-kings] Yao and Shun. To Mr. Lucun. Bada Shanren bows.

如此日出萬夫之忙,以故未免一見面之難。先生可得暇,山人之思亦渴,倘得以暇處求見,是所願也。百凡堯天舜日中罄之。鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首。

Leaf DD (6 columns in semi-cursive script):

Painting during the spring rain, I have attained a little peace and quiet. Regarding the painting Autumn Woods given by Mr. Shen last winter, in which a man sits chanting in the foreground, could you kindly find it in your spare time and have it brought to me for a viewing? To Mr. Lucun. Bada Shanren bows.

春雨作畫,少得靜耑。去冬沈兄所貽《秋林圖》,其下有一人坐詠者,祈撥冗尋付來手一覽為望。鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首。

Leaf E (9 columns in semi-cursive script):

My health has gone through a series of ups and downs in the last few days. It’s funny that I felt revitalized after eating melons. Now all is fine, but I’d better nurse myself for a couple of days to recuperate. Have you seen the album leaves on your desk which Mr. Shanyan requested? Old Dan hasn’t seen them either. I painted at the Beilan Temple on the fifth [of this month]. Mr. Zhi expressed his wish to see Siweng’s [Dong Qichang] painting. I hope you would deliver it soon. To Mr. Lucun. Bada Shanren bows in reply on the ninth of the seventh lunar month.

連日賤恙既八還而九轉之,噉瓜得甦,亦是奇事。此間百凡易為,但須調攝一二日為佳耳。山言先生所屬斗方案上見否?旦老亦未見過。五日在北蘭涉事一日也。質老致意,思翁畫馳去是幸。鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首,七月九日復上。

Leaf EE (4 columns in semi-cursive/standard script):

How can I use a double portion! I am abashed to enjoy it and will return your kindness. In reply to Mr. Lucun on the Spring Purification Day [the third of the third lunar month]. Bada Shanren bows.

曷之用二砠,愧享圖報。修禊日復上鹿邨先生,八大山人頓首。

Artist's seals

Kede shenxian 可得神仙 (Leaf A)
Shide 拾得 (Leaf B)
Bada Shanren 八大山人 (Leaf C)
Bada Shanren 八大山人 (Leaf D)
Bada Shanren 八大山人 (Leaf EE)

Collectors’ seals

Zhao Yuhuang 趙燏黄 (1883–1960)
Yaonong pingsheng zhenshang 藥農平生真賞

Gu Luofu顧洛阜 (John M. Crawford Jr., 1913–1988)
Gu Luofu 顧洛阜
Hanguang Ge 漢光閣
Hanguang Ge Zhu Gu Luofu jiancang Zhongguo gudai shuhua zhi zhang 漢光閣主顧洛阜鋻藏中國古代書畫之章

Unidentified
Zhiyu Zhai 智玉齋

[1] Translations from Department records.
[2] The intercalary month may be the seventh lunar month of 1699, which makes the date of this letter September 10, 1699.
[ Jean-Pierre Dubosc , by 1982] ; John M. Crawford Jr. , (Nw York, until 1982)
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