Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644)
Acquired from another collection
Dong Qichang (1555-1636) whose style name was Xuanzai, and whose two personal names were Sibai and Yangguang Jushi, was from Huating (modern day Songjiang in Shangha). In 1588 he passed the Jinshi official examination, and served as Minister for the Board of Rites and Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent; he was given the posthumous title Wenmin.
Dong Qichang was the most influential painter, calligrapher, and painting and calligraphy theorist of the Ming and Qing dynasties. His calligraphy was based on a synthesis of the styles of the Jin, Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties. Early in his career he studied the works of Yan Zhenqing, later focusing his attention on Yu Shinan. After coming to the conclusion that works of Jin calligraphy surpassed that of the Tang, he also studied Zhongyao and Wang Xizhi, reverting to the study of Yan Zhenqing in his later years. This piece is a copy of Dong Qichang’s Essay in Praise of Archaic Prose, written in semi-cursive script. The brushstrokes are rounded and refined, while the composition is clearly defined and regular. In emulating archaic calligraphic methods, Dong Qichang's semi-cursive calligraphy illustrates his characteristic expressive simplicity and even elegance.