Couplet in Seal Script


Artist: Zhang Tingji (1768 - 1848)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1830
Pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
H x W (image, each): 113.3 x 27.4 cm (44 5/8 x 10 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Freer Gallery of Art
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scrolls

China, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 1929-2014


For the duke's great longevity, a set of bells was cast,
For the sovereign's prowess, a precious tripod was made.

On the nineteenth day of the fourth lunar month in the tenth year of the Daoguang reign period [May 11, 1830], I selected and copied individual characters from the texts of ancient bronze vessels in my collection. Shuwei Zhang Tingji.

An accomplished poet and calligrapher, Zhang Tingji was also renowned as scholar of the inscriptions found on ancient stone memorials and bronze vessels. He owned a large collection of such materials and his calligraphy was greatly influenced by his studies in these areas. As he explained in his postscript, Zhang selected twelve individual characters from various ancient bronzes in his collection, which he copied and rearranged to form the text of this couplet. This was a common practice among calligraphers of the time, and his brief text contains a number of rare and archaic forms of ancient seal script that would have intrigued his like-minded contemporaries.

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

Copyright with museum