Calligraphing Poetry

Tags: calligraphy | National Palace Museum


Wang To (1592-1652), Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Album leaves, ink on paper, (leaves 5, 6, 7) 28.3 x 36 cm 
Wang To (style name Chüeh-ssu and sobriquets Sung-ch’iao, Shih-ch’iao and Ch’ih-hsien tao-jen), a native of Meng-chin in Honan, received his Presented Scholar civil service degree in 1622 and served at court in both the Ming (1368-1644) and Ch'ing (1644-1911) dynasties, in the latter for which he was Minister of Rites. Despite his achievements in art, however, he has been criticized for this attitude in politics.

In calligraphy, Wang was adamant about practicing by copying the works of the old masters one day and then writing as one pleases the next. The brushwork in his cursive script has a lively rhythm to it and there is considerable variety to the tones of the ink. Wang's cursive script, done by holding the arm aloft, was evidently influenced by the styles of Huang T'ing-chien and Chu Yün-ming. Wang wrote that for these five "wild" five-character verses he used even "wilder" cursive script, revealing the manner of large-scale calligraphy.

This work originally was a long handscroll that was later remounted into an album, resulting in a mistake to the ordering of a few lines of the characters. It was done in 1643 in Honan at the age of 51. The fifth poem was done to commemorate a trip to see his friend near Soochow. These are the fifth, sixth, and seventh leaves from the 60th album of "Calligraphy of the Yüan and Ming."

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum