Wen Zhengming, Calligraphy

Wen Zhengming is a major figure in the history of Chinese art. He lived in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In accordance with the ideal of the scholars of his time, he was the author of both paintings and calligraphy. He also left many poetic works.

This fan is the expression of the talent of the poet as well as the elegance of the calligrapher. In a few verses, Wen Zhengming sketches a spring landscape. Within an eruption of colors, rain and wind carrying perfumes, a beauty awakens “while a butterfly crosses the wall fluttering”. The restrained virtuosity of the semi-cursive calligraphy fits perfectly with this poetic evocation.

In China, fans are one of the classic supports for calligraphy and painting. As early as the Song dynasty (960-1279), the round fan was a format commonly used by painters. Folding fans, originating in Japan, were adopted by Chinese scholars under the Ming (1368-1644). Painted or calligraphic fans, often offered as tokens of friendship, played an important role in the sociability of the elites of that time.


Wen Zhengming 文徵明 (1470-1559)
Ink on paper
H.17,6 x W.49,4 cm
CM 2006-75

Gift of the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum, 2006

Photo credit :
© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum


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