Treatise on Calligraphy (書譜)
Sun Guoting (孫過庭, latter half of 7th c.), Tang Dynasty (618–907)
Handscroll, ink on paper, 26.5 x 900.8 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei
Sun Guoting specialized in cursive script in the style of Wang Xizhi (ca. 303–361). Sun’s style is exceptionally accomplished, and it remained unparalleled throughout the Tang dynasty (618–907). The paper and ink of this work are in a remarkable state of preservation, providing a detailed and clear account of his dazzling brushwork. This is not only an exceptionally insightful essay on the study of calligraphy, but it is also an ideal model for the art of cursive script. It represents a style that fuses a straightforward quality with beautiful elegance. Sun Guoting sometimes held the brush straight and other times at an angle. The tip of the brush is occasionally exposed. The brushwork dashes forth, changing constantly in a way that never ceases to amaze the viewer. The brushwork is free and easy throughout, achieving an unconscious synergy between hand and mind.