Self-composed Poems in Running Script Image 1

Tang Yin

Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Art Museum, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Tang Yin, a native of Wuxian (present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu), came first at the provincial civil examinations of 1498 but was stripped of all titles just a year later in the aftermath of an examination fraud. With officialdom a dead end, he returned home to make a living by painting and writing calligraphy. Gifted in poetry, painting and calligraphy, he was one of the “Four Literary Talents of Wu” together with Zhu Yunming, Wen Zhengming and Xu Zhenqing, and one of the “Four Painting Masters of the Ming” together with Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming and Qiu Ying.

This scroll consisting of 20 poems is for the calligrapher’s friend Shuncheng, or Zhu Chengjue, who was a poet-critic and book collector. As for the poems themselves, there are conspicuous discrepancies with the calligrapher’s published versions. It is apparent from the corrections here and there that they are merely drafts and were possibly copied out here for seeking comments from Zhu Chengjue, a practice not uncommon among Chinese literati in former times.

Although being undated, it can be conjectured that this scroll was written after 1519, based on the poem entitled Celebrating My Fiftieth Birthday, which is largely neat and august. The scroll is considered to be a valuable reference offering glimpses into Tang’s diverse artistic origins. The overall sleekness seen in this late-year work is reminiscent of Wang Xizhi and Zhao Mengfu while the subtle roundedness, Yan Zhenqing. Revelatory of the poet-calligrapher’s late-year calligraphic style and his assiduous attitude to poetic composition, the scroll stands out as a special piece among the many calligraphies of his poems that can be seen even to this day.


  • Title: Self-composed Poems in Running Script Image 1
  • Creator: Tang Yin (1470–1523)
  • Date Created: Undated (after 1519)
  • Physical Dimensions: 26.7 cm × 334.3 cm
  • Provenance: Gift of Bei Shan Tang
  • Type: Calligraphy; Handscroll
  • Rights: Collection of Art Museum, CUHK
  • Medium: Ink on paper
  • Accession number: 1995.0652

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