Asian Gallery (Toyokan) Room 8
January 2, 2008 (Wed) - March 2, 2008 (Sun)
This display features calligraphy by Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and works of late Ming (1368-1644) to Qing dynasty (1616-1912) calligraphers who were influenced by him. Although in the cultural sphere each genre reached its peak of development, the government of the Ming dynasty continued to decline in its later years during the Wanli era (1573-1619). In calligraphic art, the style of Wen Zhengming, which had been extremely popular during the mid-Ming dynasty, became hollow-resulting in more form than content. Dong Qichang rejected the rigid style and aimed at unrestrained and simple expression. For his dynamic, fresh and sophisticated style, which influenced not only his contemporary calligraphers but later generations as well, he was called "teacher of hundred generations of artists."
Having passed the examination in 1589, Dong Qichang was a high-ranking government official. Born in Huating, Jiangsu province, he began to learn calligraphy when he was 17. He first studied Yan Zhenqin and Yu Shinan from the Tang dynasty (618-906), but was not satisfied with them, and went on to study earlier masters such as Zhong Yao and Wang Xizhi from the Wei (220-265) and Jin (265-420) periods. He is said to have also started painting in his 20s and Zen (Chan) Buddhism around 30.
Dong Qichang was not only an excellent calligrapher and painter but also a distinguished theoretician and appraiser of art. His book on painting and calligraphy "Huachanshi Suibi" was famous as evidence of his deep understanding of the arts, and is still read today.