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A native of Yangqu (today's Taiyuan, Shanxi province), Fu Shan was nominated to take the Erudite Literatus (boxue hongci, a special examination offered to men of extraordinary literary talent, to serve in such compiling agencies as the Hanlin Academy), but he declined the invitation, and stayed aloof from politics. He was an eclectic literatus accomplished in classic texts, medicine, painting, poetry and essay. Moreover, as a calligrapher, he excelled in a great variety of scripts, cursive script in particular. Fu Shan was regarded as a master calligrapher in early Qing-dynasty calligraphy circles.
In the scroll, Fu Shan inscribed a septisyllabic quatrain entitled Kaisheng Temple by Tang (618-907) poet Li She (see volume 477, The Complete Tang Poems, Quan Tang shi). The brush is centered to create supple and vigorously prolonged strokes. The characters are filled with rhythmic energy by Fu Shan's virtuoso touches.
The three inscriptions on the sides of Fu Shan's calligraphy are by famous literati Ping Shengtai, Weng Fanggang (1733-1818), and Boming (1726-1774). According to these inscriptions, the calligraphy scroll was bought by Cao Xuemin (1719-1787) from a painting gallery on the Lantern festival (shangyuan jie, the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar) of 1776, the forty-first year of the Qianlong reign (1736-1795). Cao Xuemin was a native of Fenyang, Shanxi province. He received his "presented scholar" degree during the Qianlong reign. His official career culminated as Grand Secretariat Academician Reader-in-waiting (neige shidu xueshi). This inscription can be compared with Min Zhen's painting Family Celebration of Cao Xuemin (Palace Museum), depicting Cao's family reunion and celebration on the Mid-autumn festival (zhongqiu jie, the fifteenth day of the eight lunar month).