28 November 2005
XIA CHANG (1388-1470)
XIAOXUE IN SMALL STANDARD SCRIPT CALLIGRAPHY
A set of four albums of a total of seventy-three double leaves, ink on paper, various sizes
Signed on the last leaf in the fourth album by the artist: Dongwu Xia Chang
Dated renxu year of the Zhengtong era (1442)
One seal of the artist: Xia Shi Zhong Zhao Ji
Inscription at the end of the fourth album by the artist, stating that he saw this in 1463, some twenty years after it was written.
Inscription signed by the artist: Xia Chang Zhong zhao, with three seals of the artist: Xia Chang Zhong Zhao Yin, Tai Shang Qing Tu Shu, Jing Xue Zhai
Colophon following by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), signed: Wen Zhengming, with two seals: Ting Yun Sheng, Wen Zheng Ming Yin
Fifteen collectors' seals, including:
Full set of eight collector's seals of the Emperor Qianlong (r.1736-1795), one of the Emperor Jiaqing (r.1796-1820), and one of Wu Puxin (19th-20th century)
Xia Chang is now most famous for his paintings of bamboo, although he was also well-known as a calligrapher, particularly for his standard script calligraphy, in his time. Together with his brother Xia Bing, Xia Chang served in the court of the Yongle emperor as official scribes of important and confidential documents. While paintings of bamboo by Xia Chang are still seen, virtually none of his calilgraphy is extant, not to mention a masterpiece of this magnitude and importance.
The colophon by Wen Zhengming speaks of how avidly Xia Chang practiced his calligraphy, writing a thousand character each day until after he was in his seventies. Interesting, Wen was privy to this information as he married the grand-daughter of Xia Chang, something not widely recorded before.
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Shiqu Baoji Xubian, juan (chapter) 38, in midian Zhulin shiqu Baoji Hebian, Shanghai Bookstore, 1971, vol. 5, p.1981
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