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Asian Art
Artist: Zhu Qizhan, Chinese, 1892–1996

Calligraphy Couplet


Pair of hanging scrolls: ink on paper, calligraphy in running-standard script

without mounting: 38 × 12 in. (96.52 × 30.48 cm)
with mounting: 69 3/4 × 17 5/8 in. (177.17 × 44.77 cm)
Collection of H. Christopher Luce, B.A. 1972
Born in Taicang, Jiangsu Province, Zhu Qizhan was first influenced by Cézanne but returned to the traditional Chinese medium of ink. He painted plums, bamboo, and landscapes in a style influenced by Qi Baishi, whom he met in 1929. Even with strokes concealed by a richly loaded brush, Zhu conveyed energy. At ninety-seven years old, he applied rapid brushstrokes that demonstrate his self-reliance and confidence. The plump characters 無 and 墨 appear to float over the surface, while 千 and 筆 are nailed down by their center strokes. The characters unfold with a rhythmic pulse, enlivening the scroll with each stroke. In the first line, from a poem titled “Responding to Li Tianlin” (和李天麟) by Yang Wanli (楊萬里, 1127–1260), the poet reminds us of the impermanence of material objects. In response, Zhu declares that creativity will outlast its physical form, as its ideas will endure forever. The last surviving member of the Epigraphic School, Zhu Qizhan may have been referring to how fragile paper copies of stone inscriptions have preserved the meaning and style of writing by outlasting those stones.
Not on view
People’s Republic of China (1949–present)

Christie's HK 3718; purchased in 2015 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.