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The Lotus Sutra

Calligrapher Zhao Mengfu Chinese

Not on view

元 趙孟頫 小楷大乘妙法蓮華經卷第三 卷 紙本

Zhao Mengfu was a pivotal figure in the history of Chinese painting and calligraphy, so much so that, after his death, the standard typeface for printed books was modeled on his calligraphy. A versatile master of all five calligraphic script types, he made a vital contribution to the revival of small standard script. Because it follows strict rules of stroke order and structure, standard script allows for less personal expressiveness than cursive and semicursive scripts. Nevertheless, Zhao managed to forge a unique voice with standard script through a singular combination of structural balance and smooth brushwork. This rare example of Zhao’s small standard script shows the artist at the height of his powers, maintaining both regularity and dynamism throughout a text of more than 10,000 characters. The text is a partial transcription of The Lotus Sutra, a popular Buddhist scripture. The scroll was originally one of a set of seven that Zhao made for his friend Zhongfeng Mingben (1263–1323), a prominent Buddhist monk.

The Lotus Sutra, Zhao Mengfu (Chinese, 1254–1322), Handscroll, originally third scroll from a set of seven; ink on paper, China

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