Poem by Li Mengyang in running script

Artist: Zhang Ruitu (1570-1641)
Author: Poem by Li Mengyang (1472-1529)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1620s-1630s
Ink on silk
H x W (image): 189.7 x 49 cm (74 11/16 x 19 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), running script

To 1982
Wang Nanping (1924-1985), Hong Kong, to 1982

From 1982
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Wang Nanping in 1982

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Wang Nanping 1924-1985


In 1626, Zhang Ruitu attained the rank of Grand Secretary, which placed him at the center of imperial government. Three years later, due to factional disputes at court, he was reduced to the status of commoner and never served in office again. Retiring to his home outside Quanzhou in Fujian Province, Zhang spent the remainder of his life engaged in writing, painting, and calligraphy.

Zhang Ruitu created a highly distinctive personal style of calligraphy characterized by strong, pointed brushwork, sharp abrupt turns, a sideways-bent brush tip, swift sudden changes in pressure, and brushstrokes that vary from thick and dark to dry and thin. His poem may be translated as follows:

Center lake is really quite extraordinary,
I cross the bridge and South Lake then is there;
Stone stairways coil back upon themselves,
Cliffside torrents suddenly appear and vanish.
I open my window where a myriad valleys amass,
Before the hall a single peak rises alone;
Viewing once more these thousand bamboo groves,
I miss the whistling hermits of antiquity.

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Published References
  • (Introduction) Richard M. Barnhart. The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-p'ing Collection. Exh. cat. New Haven. .
  • 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. 21.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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