Letters to Fang Shiguan

Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) Chinese

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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.

Letters to Fang Shiguan, Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) (Chinese, 1626–1705), Album of ten leaves; ink on patterned and plain paper, China

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