Calligraphy couplet in Seal Script


Artist: Zhang Sirui (active early 20th century)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, early 20th century
Pair of hanging scrolls; ink on paper
H x W: 200.9 x 34.2 cm (79 1/8 x 13 7/16 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, couplet, Modern period (1912 - present), Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, seal script
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 1929-2014


Have Xie Yuan teach literature, Lei Cizong teach
Confucianism, and He Shangzhi teach metaphysics;
Listen to Liu Xian lecture on ritual propriety,
Gu Ce lecture on the Book of Changes, and Zhu
Guangzhi lecture on Daoism.

Translation by Stephen D. Allee

Zhang Sirui constructed this couplet from two different passages in the official History of the Southern Dynasties, which covers the period from 420 to 589. He adapted the text on the right scroll from passages in the Annals of the Liu-Song Dynasty concerning imperially sponsored schools under Emperor Wen (reigned 424-453 C.E.), and directly quoted the text on the left scroll from a passage that recounts the educational pastimes of Xiao Ying, Prince of Linchuan (458-489 c.e.). Each of the six men named in the couplet was a leading figure in his respective discipline.

Using a powerful, squarish form of ancient seal script, the calligrapher Zhang Sirui successfully achieved an illusion of vertical mass and solidity that resembles two intricately carved columns. He then created a kind of pedestal at the bottom of each column by using a strongly contrasting form of standard script to record the source of the quotations (right scroll) and his signature (left scroll).

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

Undetermined copyright