The History of Chinese Calligraphy
Qing Dynasty 1644 - 1911
|The Manchu people were descendants of the Nuchen who occupied northern China in the 12th century. In 1644 they invaded China, gained control of Beijing, and established the Qing Dynasty. |
Ming adherents. Continued the romantic movement of Late Ming, Chinese calligraphy differed little in Early Qing, when scholars were as defiant toward entrenched traditions in art as they were toward the alien rule. Among recalcitrant painter-calligraphers were Fu Shan, Zhu Da, and Shi Tao. Fu Shan rejected any offer from the Manchu and spent his life reclusive, following the tradition of Chinese intellectual recluses under the Mongols. Zhu Da and Shi Tao, both of them the descendants of the Ming royal house, entered the monkhood to avoid involvement with the new order.
|Fu Shan (1606 - 1705) |
Poem Inscribed on a Rice Paper Fan
|Zhu Da (1626 - 1705) |
Study after Old Master
Ink on rice paper.
|Shi Tao (1640 - 1718) |
|Emperor's calligraphy. Early Qing emperors enthusiastically absorbed Chinese learning and took great pride in their calligraphy. They liked very much the neat, proper and uniform style of Dong Qichang and Zhao Mengfu and spared no expense to collect their works. Through their advertisement, the style of their idols was fashionable one after another in the court and the candidates of imperial examination.|
|Emperor Kangxi (1654 - 1722) |
|Emperor Qianlong (1711 - 1799) |
|Learning from ancient stone steles. Many of Manchu leaders believed that the previous Ming dynasty had collapsed because it had allowed society to be too open. Therefore they tried to control the thoughts of Chinese subjects ever since they conquered China. A cruel literary inquisition was practiced during Early Qing, when Chinese scholars paid with their lives for as little as one or two lines of poetry that could be interpreted as treasonous. Such terrorism frightened many gifted scholars into unoffensive subject of compiling Confucian classics. |
In order to explain the abstruse words in those classics, great details were involved in textual research. Among the matters were stone inscriptions of Han dynasty when Confucianism was greatly respected. Admired their ancestor's achievement, Qing scholars-calligraphers began to draw their inspiration from those stone tablets.
The rediscovery of the ancient inscription led to a trend in Chinese calligraphy that challenged the unified domain of Southern school. The first painter-calligrapher openly criticized the gracefulness in Wang Xizhi's writing was Jin Nong, one of Eight Eccentric Artists from Yongzhou. Deviated from the convention that had dominated the art since, he created a heretical 'painter calligraphy' style, in which the characters were drawn in ink as thick as paint by a brush with the tip cut off. Another notable calligrapher was Zheng Xie, who simply borrowed the technique of clerical script into his semi-cursive script.
|Jin Nong (1687 - 1763) |
|Gao Xiang (1688 - 1753) |
|Zheng Xie (1693 - 1765) |
|Qian Daxin (1728 - 1804) |
|Chinese calligraphy revival. Coincided with the interpretation of ancient writing was a batch of newly unearthed inscribed bronzes and stone steles. Inspired and excited, Chinese scholars, like Huang Yi and Ruan Yuan, made nothing of hardships for a stone rubbing in a remote location. On reevaluation of stone inscriptions from Norther dynasties which had been cold-shouldered for many centuries, Ruan Yuan put forward his thesis of Southern and Norther schools in calligraphy, which brought about the rise of popular interest in stone stele and decline of calligraphy copybook. |
The new trend was noted for its merits on seal and clerical script. In the former, emerged celebrated calligraphers as in Deng shiru and Wu Changshi. In the latter, appeared a string of masters as in Gui Fu, Huang Yi, and Yin Bingshou. After a millennium silence since Tang dynasty, these highly achieved calligraphers revived oppressive scene of Chinese calligraphy, and their influences continued through many young generations to this day.
|Gui Fu (1736 - 1850) |
|Deng Shiru (1743 - 1805) |
|Huang Yi (1744 - 1802) |
|Yin Bingshou (1754 - 1815) |
Calligraphy after Zhang Qian Stele
|Ruan Yuan (1764 - 1849) |
|Bao Shichen (1775 - 1855) |
|He Shao-ji (1799 - 1873) |
|Zhao Zhiqian (1829 - 1884) |
Poem on rice paper fan, 1861
|Wu Changshi (1844 - 1927) |
|Kang Youwei (1858 - 1927) |
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