Hanging scroll: ink on paper
Dimensions: Image: 67 x 13 1/2 inches (170.2 x 34.3 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Baekeland, in memory of his father, George Baekeland, Class of 1918
Object Number: 72.114.001
Zhang Ruitu, a native of Fujian, served as a compiler in the Hanlin Academy under the Wanli emperor and later as a member of the Grand Secretariat under the patronage of the eunuch Wei Zhongxian, for whom he wrote inscriptions on a number of tablets and shrines. His innovative calligraphic style earned praise as "strange and extraordinary" (qi), a euphemism for individuality of expression that deliberately breaks from conventional standards. Zhang's calligraphy exhibits tremendous energy through its angular, spindly characters and tilted strokes. He also employed unusual spacing that juxtaposed tight compression within each column with widely separated columns.
As one of the Ming dynasty's foremost calligraphers, Zhang Ruitu is usually classified as one of the Four Masters of the Late Ming, along with Xing Tong, Dong Qichang, and Mi Wanzhong.
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.