Calligraphy in Bronze Script (Jinwen) Artist: Luo Zhenyu (Chinese, 1866–1940)

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Asian Art

Not on view

From the humble birthplace of Huai’an in Jiangsu Province, Luo Zhenyu survived the tumultuous transition from dynasty to republic in 1912, but was left without a job or income. Along with others in the Epigraphic movement (jinshixue pai, 金石皐派), Luo loved artifacts, and despite hardship, he began to collect and record inscriptions found on stone and bronze. With Dong Zuobin (1895–1963), Luo established the identity and chronology of rulers during the Shang dynasty, once thought to be mythical. Luo claimed that, "I only like to collect ancient artifacts," but he played so many roles—scholar, collector, author, publisher, and art dealer—that he became a polarizing figure in that field. While oracle bone writing influenced bronze script, its rectilinear lines differed from the rounder bronze script because of the difficulty of engraving hard surfaces, contrasting with the ease of inscribing the wet clay in which bronze molds were cast. Bronze script in turn influenced Stone Drum script—most of their apparent differences deriving from the originals’ scales and materials. In this scroll, Luo wrote inscriptions on bronze vessels from his collection, exemplifying the epigrapher’s process of learning through collecting and writing from artifacts.


Hanging scroll, ink on paper


without mounting: 52 5/8 × 13 1/16 in. (133.7 × 33.1 cm)
with mounting: 36 5/8 × 20 13/16 in. (93 × 52.8 cm)
with rollers: 22 15/16 in. (58.2 cm)

Credit Line

Collection of H. Christopher Luce, B.A. 1972

Accession Number



Republican period (1912–49)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Sotheby's Hong Kong sale HK0634/1282; purchased in 2016 by H. Christopher Luce, New York; gifted in 2017 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

calligraphy, hanging scrolls


signed LUO ZHENYU, dated 1918, inscribed, and with two seals of the artist

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