Excerpt from Xunzi in standard script

Artist: Qian Feng (1740-1795)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, late 18th century
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 174.3 x 87.3 cm (68 5/8 x 34 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Regents' Collections Acquisition Program
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

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

Qian Feng spent much of his official career as a censor, whose job was to report to the throne on corrupt and incompetent officials. He modeled his standard script on that of the famous Tang dynasty calligrapher Yan Zhenqing (709--785), though Qian's brushwork exhibits more inner tension and "boniness." This typical example of his writing attests to Qian Feng's fondness for discipline, order, and balance. Partially translated below, the text is a quote from Xunzi, a Confucian philosopher who lived in the third century B.C.E.

"Thus, though many indeed were good at writing, only [the name of] Cang Jie has come down to us, because he focused on that one thing. Though many indeed were good at farming, only [the name of] Houji has come down to us, because he focused on that one thing. . . .From antiquity to the present, no one ever mastered anything who tried to focus on two things [at a time]. As Master Zeng said: Anybody busy thinking about swatting a mouse with his tempo stick could never sing together with me!"

Published References
  • Kathleen Yang. Through a Chinese Connoisseur's Eye: Private Notes of C.C. Wang. Beijing. p.341, fig.127.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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