Ode to the Red Cliff (赤壁賦)
Wen Zhengming (文徵明, 1470–1559), Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)
Handscroll, ink on paper, 28.7 x 464.5 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei
Gifted at many scripts, Wen Zhengming was best at small regular and running scripts. In the former he followed the fourth-century style of the Two Wangs, i.e. Wang Xizhi (王羲之) and Wang Xianzhi (王獻之), while in running script he learned from such calligraphers as Zhiyong (智永), Su Shi (蘇軾), Huang Tingjian (黃庭堅), and Mi Fu (米芾). The running script here is powerful yet reserved, the characters restrained and pure. The spacing between the strokes is short and linked, imparting much variety. This piece of work is a copy of Su Shi’s Ode to the Red Cliff.