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Captioning the Portrait of Tao Qian (345-427) in Running Cursive Script

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink on paper
Format: hanging scroll

Scriptstyle: running script
Calligrapher(s): Xi Gang (1746-1803)

Dimensions: 98.5 × 31.3 cm

A native of Qiantang (today's Hangzhou), Zhejiang province, Xi Gang was a renowned calligraphy, painting and seal cutting artist in the middle of the Qing dynasty. In calligraphy, he specialized in running, clerical, regular and cursive scripts. A famous painter in his time, Xi learned painting from Hua Yan and excelled in painting landscapes, birds, and flowers. In the meantime, he composed some extraordinary poems of timeless beauty. He was also skilled in seal cutting and largely modeled after the Qin (221-207 BCE) and Han (206 BCE-220 CE) dynasty style. Xi's seal cutting works represented the "Zhejiang school" style, and he was listed as one of the "Four Masters of Xileng" (Xileng sidajia).   
  The inscription implies that this scroll was created by Xi for his friend when he was about forty-four years old. The brushwork is firm and smooth; the dots, strokes and turning points are rendered with appropriate force, which lends a special charm to the work. The characters are precisely and properly structured, demonstrating that the calligrapher fully grasped the essence of Ouyang Xun (557-641) and the calligraphic style of Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) and fully commanded it. This scroll is an attentively executed work in running cursive script.

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