Pair of hanging scrolls, ink on paper

Included in this item (2)


  • Kang Youwei, Couplet in Running Script
  • Identifier Type
    Locally defined identifier
    Identifier Value
    Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Jeannette Shambaugh Elliott. 1996.79.A-B
  • Dimension: calligraphy 131 x 33 cm; mounting 185 x 45 cm
  • Calligraphy: 山水含芳意 風雲入壯懷 Translation: Mountains and rivers contain virtue, wind and clouds embrace aspirations
  • Inscription: 煒和仁兄。康有為。 Translation: For dear friend Weihe. Signed Kang Youwei.
  • Artist's Seal: 康有為印 維新百日出亡十六年三週大地遊遍四洲經三十一國行六十萬哩
  • Kang Youwei (1858-1927, alternative name Zuyi, 祖詒; Guangxia, 廣廈; Gengsheng, 更生; Changsu, 長素) is a native of Nanhai, Guangdong province. He passed the national exam and earned the jinshi degree in 1895 during the Guangxu reign. He was known for his calligraphy and political ideology. Realizing the challenging issues the late Qing court encountered, Kang Youwei led a movement that tried to establish a constitutional monarchy, similar to the British political system. Supported by the emperor Guangxu, Kang Youwei, along with his famed student, Liang Qichao, launched the Hundred Days’ Reform in 1898. But the Dowager Empress suppressed this reform and ordered Kang Youwei to be executed. Kang had to flee to Japan where he continued promoting his political ideas. After the Qing dynasty fell and Sun Zhongshan established the Republic of China, Kang Youwei still wished to put his idea for a constitutional monarchy into practice. He published Kongzi gaizhi kao, Xinxue weijing kao, and Datong shu to express his political views. Kang Youwei’s most influential publication on calligraphy is Guang yizhou shuangji. Based on the ideas of Bao Shichen and Ruan Yuan (1764-1849), Kang Youwei promoted the importance and significance of the stele school by surveying Qing calligraphy works. His own calligraphy reflects his study on stele writings from Northern Dynasties, expressing strength of brush and ink as in this pair scrolls. Kang Youwei wrote this couplet for his friend Weihe. The poem, “Mountains and rivers contain virtue, wind and clouds embrace aspirations,” seems very powerful because of the bold, and sometime dry brushes. For example, the first two characters on the right scroll, wind (feng) and cloud (yun), present the motion of nature by moving the strokes freely with both wet and dry brushes. These running scripts combine the characteristic of clerical script, in which all the characters are composed steadily and firmly. Although the composition of each character looks very open at the first glance, the internal structure is built tightly. With both round and square stroke endings, the entire piece creates a balance between power and conservation. Reference Double Beauty: Qing Dynasty Couplets from the Lechangzai Xuan Collection, ed by Kuo, Jason C., Egan, Ronald, Mok, Harold, Sturman, Peter. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Art, 2003. Zhongguo shufa jianshang dacidian 中國書法鑑賞大辭典 Beijing: Dadi chuban she, 1989. (1291-1298) Zhou Ti ed. Zhongguo lidai shufajia mingren moji: qingdai bufen 中國歷代書法家名人墨跡:清代部份. vol. 2. Beijing: Zhongguo zhanwang chuban she, 1987. (788-790)

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