In ancient China calligraphy, poetry, and painting were practiced separately, either at court or privately among the elites. Since the 7th century, the civil examination system gave rise to a new class of scholar-officials who gained their status through knowledge. Many of these cultivated scholar-officials were excellent poets, calligraphers, and painters. Ever since, these three arts have been connected and appreciated as the ultimate in the visual arts, known simply as "the three perfections.” It is the combination of all three creative processes—poetry, painting, and calligraphy—that is considered the ultimate in artistic achievement. Very rarely does a single artist have talent in all three.
This exhibit features four facsimile scrolls newly acquired by Swem Library with funds from the William & Mary Confucius Institute. A showcase of William & Mary student calligraphy from Prof. Liping Liu’s “Chinese Calligraphy: Aesthetics and Practice” course in the Modern Languages and Literatures Department complements the masterpieces of Chinese art.
Images of the exhibit are available from Special Collections on Flickr.
Curator: Xin Wu, Assistant Professor of Art History; Exhibit design and installation: Jennie Davy, Burger Archives Specialist; with installation assistance from Kathleen Dowling, Swem SCRC Volunteer. Funding provided by the William & Mary Confucius Institute.