Lyric Verse by Zhang Yu (1283–1350)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Image: 51 1/2 × 9 7/8 in. (130.8 × 25.1 cm)
Overall with mounting: 77 7/8 × 17 1/2 in. (197.8 × 44.5 cm)
Overall with knobs: 77 7/8 × 21 in. (197.8 × 53.3 cm)
Lent by Guanyuan Shanzhuang Collection
明 莫是龍 行書張雨曲 軸 紙本The fourth script type, semicursive, can be difficult to distinguish from cursive script, as they both emphasize speed and fluidity. In semicursive script, the brush is generally lifted between characters, though not always, and complex character forms are implified slightly, but less completely than in cursive. This example of semicursive text encapsulates the spirit of this script type: unhurried ease. During the late Ming dynasty (1568–1644), Mo Shilong was one of a group of artists working in Shanghai who achieved great heights of elegance in semicursive script. In this work, Mo transcribes a verse by the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) poet, painter, and calligrapher Zhang Yu, followed by a prose inscription relating the circumstances of the work’s creation. Mo had just returned home after failing the Provincial Examination in Nanjing in the winter of 1576. In disgrace and despair, he found serenity in Zhang Yu’s poem on the beauty of a simple life.