Couplet in standard script

Artist: Fu Shan (1607-1684)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, mid- to late 17th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image, each): 226 x 45.5 cm (89 x 17 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scrolls (pair)

China, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), standard script
Provenance research underway.

A native of Shanxi Province, Fu Shan was famous as a poet, calligrapher, painter, scholar, and physician. He showed early signs of genius but failed the provincial examinations and never held government office, surviving instead through his skills as a medical doctor.

Famed for his unique style of cursive, Fu Shan rarely wrote the kind of large standard script seen on this matched pair of hanging scrolls. Seeming almost to vibrate with dynamic force and inner tension, the brushwork is bold, heavy, and muscular, with individual characters measuring one or more square foot in size. The monumental effect reveals Fu Shan's debt to the stone inscriptions of Yan Zhenqing (709--785) of the Tang dynasty, whose work he studied and often copied. Fu Shan's aphoristic text may be translated:

If the spirit is settled, the mind naturally ranges afar;
When your body is at ease, the more you can enjoy.

Published References
  • Nakata Yujiro, Fu Shen. O-bei shuzo Chugoku hosho meiseki shu [Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in American and European Collections]. 6 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1983. vol. 6: pl. 41.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 15, pp. 52-53.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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