This collection showcases selected works of Calligraphy and Paintings Section from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library publication, namely, “From the treasure house: Jewels from the Library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong”. The authors are notable figures in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from the late Qing dynasty to modern times, including late Qing epigraphy connoisseur Fu Xi; Qing scholar Zhu Ciqi and his student Jian Chaoliang; Kuomintang official Da Jitao; scholars and writers Zhang Shizhao, Ma Kiam and his brothers, Shen Yinmo, Zhou Zuoren, Chen Yinke, Zhou Zuoren, Wu Mi, Mao Dun, Zhu Guangqian, Zheng Zhenduo, Yu Pingbo, Qian Zhongshu, and local educators and scholars such as Lu Xiangfu, Li King-hong, So Man-jock and Jao Tsung-I; Guangdong and Hong Kong artists and literati Ye Gongchuo, Li Fengting, Zhang Daqian, Deng Fen, Luo Shuzhong, Feng Kanghou, Chen Jinghong and Zhang Renshi; the modern Chinese artist known for depicting folk life, Huang Zhou; Taiwan poets Li You and Wu Wangu; and, the Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Gao Xingjian. Calligraphy and paintings in this collection are all remarkable items collected by the Library over the years which show high artistic value and, at the same time, stand witness to the social interaction among members of the literary circles. The following is some features of the collection.
Jian Chaoling (1851-1933) was a student of Zhu Ciqi (1807–1881) who was widely acclaimed as Master Jiujiang. Jian was well-versed in the classics and poetry, and was known as Master Jian’an after his studio in Jian’an, Shunde, in Guangdong province. Jian’s Poem in Semi-cursive Script in this collection was composed on his travel to Humen Fort. The calligraphy was purchased at the cost of a few hundred catties of grain by the Yang family during the war. It was later passed down to Yang’s son Shunwen, a student of one of Jian’s students, who invited Jian’s disciples in Hong Kong and Yang’s fellow members of the famous Shuoguo Poetry Society to enrich the scroll with their poems in 1950. Yang Shunwen also added his colophon and postscripts to the scroll.
This collection also features letters and poems in calligraphy from the five brothers of the Ma family, the “Five Mas”. One of them is written by the master of Chinese classics Ma Heng (1881–1955), the fourth among the brothers and was the Director of the National Palace Museum, to his younger brother, Ma Kiam (1882–1959), who migrated to Hong Kong in the 1930s and taught in the Department of Chinese at the University of Hong Kong. Another one was Ma Kiam’s azalea poems presented to Li King-hong (1890–1960).
Li King-hong was one of the first three graduates of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Hong Kong in 1916. Li dedicated himself to Chinese language education in Hong Kong, becoming the first Chinese Education Inspector and later the founding headmaster of the Government Vernacular Middle School in 1926. An accomplished poet, calligrapher and painter, Li painted Ink Butterfly in 1930; after the war he invited fellow members of the Shouguo Poetry Society to inscribe poems on it. With Li’s active involvement in the education, literary and art circles in Hong Kong and Guangdong for forty years, he enjoyed friendship with many contemporaries and often received paintings and calligraphy from his peers, such as those from the Chinese Painting Society. The paintings by the artists Li Fengting (1884–1967) and Deng Fen (1894–1964) included in this collection were previously in Li King-hong’s collection.
Zhang Daqian (1899–1983) was a celebrated painter who enjoyed worldwide acclaim. Dai Jitao (1890–1949), who joined Sun Yat-sen in the Tongmenghui, was a high-ranking official during the Republican era. Zhang’s painting Bamboo and Plum Blossom and Dai’s calligraphy Poem by Bai Juyi in Running Script are included in this collection.
Finally, the calligraphy and paintings from Hong Kong artists and literati such as Feng Kanghou (1901-1983), Luo Shuzhong (1898–1969), Chen Jinghong (1903–1993) and Zhang Renshi (1912–1972) that were migrated from Guangdong during political upheavals in China in the 1950s are featured in this collection. Feng, renowned for his calligraphy and seal carving, had presented a Seven-character Couplet in Seal Script to Pun Sun-on. Luo, well known for his inebriation and boisterous character, was an accomplished poet, painter and seal-engraver. His hanging scroll of Tao Yuanming’s prose poem in regular script, written in his studio in Tai Po, is one of his masterpieces. Chen was born into a respected Lingnan scholar family with such forefathers as Chen Gongyin (1631–1700) who was numbered among the “Three Masters of Lingnan”. This collection showcases Chen’s four scrolls of calligraphy in seal, clerical, regular and cursive scripts. Zhang Renshi, an outstanding female calligrapher, poet and painter, was a member of several literary societies in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. She is especially known for her peonies paintings and sharp wit in her writings. Among the almost eight hundred inscribed poems she published, more than a hundred are seven-character quatrains on peonies. Her Fifty Poems on Peony in Running Script, featured in this commemorative volume, is a rare and superb contribution to this genre of writings.