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The Thousand-Character Classic

Calligrapher Wen Peng Chinese

Not on view

明 文彭 隸書千字文 冊 紙本

When Wen Peng created this album in 1561, his choice of clerical script was unusual, as was the oversized scale of the characters. The text, known as the Thousand-Character Classic, was used by nearly all calligraphers to hone their skills, but it was more commonly written in semicursive, cursive, or standard script. Writing it in clerical script was a slow and laborious process, but the result is novel: a bold, muscular twist on a classic. Wen was one of the first calligraphers to look back to clerical script for inspiration. This practice became common three centuries later.

The Thousand-Character Classic, Wen Peng (Chinese, 1498–1573), Album of eighty-five double leaves; ink on paper, China

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