Couplet

citation

Matched hanging scrolls (tui-lien) containing a couplet written in running script (hsing-shu). The couplet consists of fourteen characters, seven per scroll, and may be translated as follows:

The idea of a painting is fresher than dew on the bough;

The heart of a poem is as lean as mist on the bamboo’s tip.

Maker(s)
Artist: Mei Diaoding (1839-1906) Mr. Wei-san Yu
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, ca. 1900
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 128.7 x 24.2 cm (50 11/16 x 9 1/2 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Wei-san Yu
Accession Number
F1980.204a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Calligraphy
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
China, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), running script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

About 1900
I-hu Yu, given by the artist, about 1900 [1]

To 1980
Mr. Wei-san Yu, Fairfax, VA, by family descent from I-hu Yu, to 1980 [2]

From 1980
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Mr. Wei-san Yu in 1980

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Note 3 in object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Mr. Wei-san Yu
I-hu Yu

Description

Matched hanging scrolls (tui-lien) containing a couplet written in running script (hsing-shu). The couplet consists of fourteen characters, seven per scroll, and may be translated as follows:

The idea of a painting is fresher than dew on the bough;

The heart of a poem is as lean as mist on the bamboo's tip.

Inscription(s)

The second line is followed by the calligrapher's signature, reading Mei Tiao-ting, and two seals: Mei Tiao-ting and Nan-ch'ang wei hou. The work is dedicated to Yu I-hu, the great uncle of Yu Wei-san (born 1915), who donated the scrolls to the Freer Gallery.

A colophon by Yu Wei-san, dated 1980, appears on the second scroll. It provides biographical information about the calligrapher, Mei Tiao-ting. Mei was a native of Tz'u-hsi in Chekiang province. His style name (tzu) was Yu-chu and his sobriquet (hao) was Nan-weng. His family claimed descent from Mei Fu, a military official in the Han dynasty who held the title Nan-ch'eng wei. (One of Mei Tiao-ting's two seals on this pair of scrolls refers to this relationship.) Mei Tiao-ting was a scholar but never served as an official. Famous for his calligraphy, he was asked to write couplets for tablets to go in the A-yu-wang-ssu (Asoka temple) in Chekiang when it was being repaired.

Yu Wei-san's colophon goes on to say that Mei Tiao-ting was a classmate of his great-uncle Yu I-hu and did a number works of calligraphy for him. The present pair of scrolls is one of the works done for Yu I-hu and it seems to have been done when Mei was in his 60s; i.e., in about 1900. Yu Wei-san took the scrolls with him when he moved to Taiwan in 1946 and to America in 1977 and decided to give them to the Freer Gallery in 1980 in order to spread the renown of Mei Tiao-ting.

One seal of Yu Wei-san follows his signature.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum