Wang Duo was a highly esteemed calligrapher of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Wang often modeled his work after either copybooks or the works of ancient masters. To Wang, his models served only as a framework to express his own feelings and he often changed lines and phrases when the spirit moved him.
Although this sort of exercise was typical of Qing calligraphers, Wang was especially known for the particular style of his cursive script. This large calligraphy scroll is a major masterpiece in this style from his later years.
The text of this scroll is composed from selected words and fragmented phrases copied from the rubbing of a famous calligraphy work by Wang Xianzhi (344–386 A.D.). It was common practice for calligraphers to skip characters or phrases that were lost or damaged in the original rubbing. Thus, we can appreciate Wang Duo’s calligraphy work purely for the aesthetic value of his cursive calligraphy rather than for its content. The content is essentially meaningless except for the way the individual character is expressed.
“After learning that my younger brother has come to my house, I am concerned about him this cold evening…Shouchun, Fuyang, and Fan Daochang. (My) health appears to be better. I received this two days ago. This summer heat is more or less the same as usual. I showed everyone the letter and things from the young wife. When will the two Cavalier Attendants return?”