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Song Cao, a native of Yancheng, Jiangsu province, was appointed Secretariat Drafter (zhongshu sheren) during the Chongzhen reign (1628-1644) of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and later lived in solitude and refused to serve the Qing government. Song Cao specialized in poems and was particularly proficient in calligraphy. Highly individual, his calligraphy works inherited the vigorous and bold calligraphy style of late Ming and early Qing dynasty, and meanwhile were influenced by Wang Xizhi (303-361, or 321-379) and Wang Xianzhi (344-386). He also authored A Brief Statement on Calligraphy (Shufa yueyan), a well-known book on calligraphy theories in the Qing dynasty.
Song Cao was skilled in two styles of cursive script. One is characterized by thin but forceful and elegant strokes, and the other, which is more common, features characters rendered in a steady and composed manner. This scroll falls into the latter category. In the scroll, he transcribed a pentasyllabic quatrain with plump brushwork and ample ink. The firm strokes are forcible and, typical of Song Cao's calligraphy, some are written with an obliquely-held brush.