Image (each): 71 5/8 x 18 15/16 in. (181.9 x 48.1 cm)
Overall with mounting (each): 92 1/2 x 23 1/2 in. (235 x 59.7 cm)
Gift of Judith G. and F Randall Smith, in honor of Maxwell K. Hearn, 2000
Not on view
Zhao Zhiqian, the leading scholar-artist of his day, grew up in a merchant family but received a classical education in order to pursue a career in government. Passing the provincial civil-service examination in 1859, Zhao spent the next twelve years in Beijing selling his art while trying unsuccessfully to pass the capital examination before being awarded a post as district magistrate in Jiangxi Province in 1872.
Zhao was equally renowned as a calligrapher, seal carver, and painter. He is best known for a distinctive "square-brush" style of calligraphy derived from the engraved stone writings of the Northern Wei dynasty (386–534), as seen in his dedication and signature here, but he also developed a distinctively plump seal-script manner exemplified by this couplet, which expresses a sentiment appropriate for a Confucian household:
Great virtue comes from forbearance, sincerity comes from a mind free from deception. (translated by Jason Zhixin Sun)
Inscription: Great virtue comes from forebearance, sincerity comes from a mind free from deception.
To the right of the couplet Zhao has added a dedication:
"I wrote this seal script at cousin Ziyu's request and beg for his correction"
To the left is his signature:
"Seventh month of the dingmao year of the Tongzhi [reign era] (1867), Zhao Zhiqian"
Following the signature Zhao has impressed his seal: Zhao Zhiqian yin
Beneath Zhao's seal is a second seal, belonging to an unidentified collector: Ge xian shizhong yiqie bao; xiangzhong miaohua louge yun
A titlestrip on each scroll was added by Bai Qianshen (born 1955) in the spring of the renshen year (1992).
Christie's, New York , December 4, 1989, lot 171, to Smith ; Judith G. and F Randall Smith , New York (1989–2000; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Embodied Image: Chinese Calligraphy from the John B. Elliott Collection," September 15, 2000–January 7, 2001.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Brush: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy," March 12, 2005–August 14, 2005.