Pair of hanging scrolls, ink on paper

Included in this item (2)


  • Li Ruiqing, Couplet in Clerical Script
  • Identifier Type
    Locally defined identifier
    Identifier Value
    Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Gift of Jeannette Shambaugh Elliott. 1984.572.A-B
  • Dimension: calligraphy 143 x 35 cm; mounting 178 x 42 cm
  • Calligraphy: 文章故潤雅, 風節自高騫。 Translation: If the essay is elegant, the moral integrity will be presented as high itself.
  • Inscription: 集張公方碑以景君筆法為之。定瀚仁兄法家正之。清道人 Translation: Written after Zhanggong’s stele and Jingjun’s brush style. For my dear friend Dinghan to correct. Signed Qing Daoren [an alternate name of Li Ruiqing, which means a man loyal to the Qing dynasty.]
  • Artist's Seal: 阿梅 A’mei, 清道人 Qing dao ren, 黃龍硯齋 Huanglong yanzhai (yellow dragon inkstone studio), 炳焉與三代同風
  • Li Ruiqing (1867-1920, alternative name Zhonglin, 仲麟; Mei’an, 梅庵) studied calligraphy from Han dynasty epigraphy and inscriptions from Shang and Zhou dynasty bronzes since he was young. This pair of couplet scrolls, as the calligrapher said himself, wrritten after Zhanggong’s stele and Jingjun’s brush style. Zhanggong’s stele may refer to the Zhang Qian stele (Zhang Qian bei 張遷碑, which is a well-known stele created in 186, the Eastern Han period to commemorate Zhang Qian’s deeds. Now the stele is preserved at the Temple of Dai (daimiao 岱廟) in Tai’an, Shandong. The writings from Zhang Qian stele present a flavor of clerical style. But the composition is more square and longer, yet still maintaining features from seal script which was popular in an earlier period. The strokes and turning points also end with a square shape, which is different from round and smooth ending in the mature clerical script. The clumsy and naïve characters are admired by later calligraphers. “Zhanggong” literally means Mr. Zhang. Since Li Ruiqing did not specify who Mr. Zhang was, it is hard to prove that Zhanggong’s stele is the same one as the Zhang Qian stele. Jingjun stele is another famous Han stele dating to 143. Similar to Zhang Qian stele, Jingjun stele also suggests the style derived from seal script. The composition of each character is long and slender. Like the styles in these two steles, Li Ruiqing’s calligraphy is not as flat as normal clerical script. The two separate parts of the last character on the left scroll, ya (elegant), look very slim respect comparatively. But with the enlarged space between the two parts, the entire character still maintains a relatively square shape. The same strategy can be also found in the character of jie (joint), the second one on the right scroll. This indicates the influence from seal script when he studied calligraphy. The trembling strokes suggest Li Ruiqing’s intention to control the brush and create an affect that is similar to the carving on the stone. Li Ruiqing also was known for writing big and powerful characters. An important calligrapher in Chinese history, Li Ruiqing was also a significant education reformer in the late Qing period. He was a pioneer who supported art education in higher school. After the Qing dynasty fell, he was still loyal to the imperial court and started to wear Daoist robes. He also named himself Qing Daoren, which means a Daoist who came from Qing dynasty. In this calligraphic work, he signed this name at the end. Reference Hummel, Arthur W. ed. Eminent Chinese of the Ch’ing Period, 1644-1912. Taipei: Chen Wen Chu Ban She, 1972.

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