Art/ Collection/ Art Object

清 緙絲隸書聯
Calligraphy Couplet

Lianfang Songfou (Chinese)
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
19th century
Overall (a): 67 1/2 x 14 3/4 in. (171.5 x 37.5 cm) Overall (b): 67 1/2 x 14 3/4 in. (171.5 x 37.5 cm)
Credit Line:
John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
13.220.84a, b
Not on view
The poetic couplet on this pair of tapestries is woven to represent calligraphy written in clerical script. The background imitates spotted bamboo, which was highly regarded in China because the spots on the stalks were understood to represent the tears of two empresses after the death of the legendary ruler Shun. The signature indicates that the original calligraphy is the work of Aisin Gioro Songfu (act. early 19th century), a member of the imperial family who was Minister of the Justice from 1825 to 1826. The couplet conflates two different poems by the famous Song dynasty poet Su Shi (1037–1101):

Clear spirit and cool mind keep one from
the mundane
Good harvest and social harmony create ease.
Signature: Scroll a:
Sui mei rên ho yi dê qing [The year abundant, people in harmony, happiness is easily grasped].
Signed, lower left: Lianfang Songfou
Two seals: Songfou zhi yin [seal of Songfou]; the family name is not given.

Scroll b:
Shên qing gu lêng woyao xü [His spirit pure, his character aloof, he sings no vulgar tunes].
Seal (upper right): Li qintang [Hall of Lichee and Lute], the studio name of Songfou followed by the characters "ji su zhü" which means that the two lines are taken from the Song poet Su Shi (1036–1101), better known by his hao, Dongpo.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painting with Thread: Chinese Tapestry and Embroidery, 12th–19th Century," October 25, 2014–August 9, 2015.

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