SPECIAL ADVISORY: The Yale University Art Gallery is open to the public on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays and offers access to Yale ID holders on weekdays. Learn More

Asian Art
Artist: Wang Fuan, Chinese, 1880–1960

Calligraphy in Clerical Script (Lishu)


Hanging scroll, ink on paper

without mounting: 56 1/8 × 30 11/16 in. (142.6 × 77.9 cm)
with mounting: 88 3/8 × 36 13/16 in. (224.5 × 93.5 cm)
with rollers: 40 7/16 in. (102.7 cm)
Collection of H. Christopher Luce, B.A. 1972
A native of Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Wang Ti was a scholar of inscriptions, a calligrapher specializing in the seal and clerical scripts, and a seal-carver who cofounded the Xiling Seal Society. Famous for its seal-carving tradition, it is the premier institution for the study of that art. Clerical script was used from the Warring States period (475–221 B.C.E.). It replaced seal script, whose unconventional and varying characters were unsuited for use by increasingly complex societies. The more uniform clerical style was needed for record-keeping and official communications, which benefited from its orderly procession of characters in a rigid grid. Its idiosyncratic na (捺) brushstroke, which flows down to the right—seen with 減, 魂, and 心 in the fourth column—influenced the sutra and small standard scripts. At the same time, brushes improved, and when paper was invented in 100 B.C.E., scribes developed individual expression, making their brushwork more spirited and expressive, and an awareness of aesthetics began to emerge. Clerical script continues to be one of the most popular styles of Chinese calligraphy, its antiquity considered lovely, now used in shop signs as well as art.
Not on view
Republican period (1912–49)

Sotheby's Hong Kong sale HK0634/1305; purchased in 2016 by H. Christopher Luce, New York; gifted in 2017 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


“Acquisitions July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/bulletin/Pub-Bull-acquisitions-2018.pdf (accessed December 1, 2018).

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 such records is ongoing.