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Known as Mid Spring (Chunzhong tie), this work in running script (xing) calligraphy is a letter written by Su Shi (1037–1101) to Fan Chuncui (courtesy name Deru, 1046–1117), the fourth son of Fan Zhongyan (989–1052). At the end of the Yuanfeng reign (1078–1085) in the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), Fan Chuncui was promoted from fiscal administrative assistant in Shaanxi to the position of a fiscal vice-commissioner, which comports with the content of the letter. This information serves to date the letter sometime in the seventh or eighth year (1084–1085) of the Yuanfeng reign when Su Shi was around fifty years old (in sui). The brushwork is smooth and natural. Seemingly concealing the artist’s genius behind simple strokes, the work has a dignified, vigorous energy. Although missing several characters and having clearly sustained damaged, the work is, nevertheless, a fine example of Su’s midlife calligraphic art.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu