The seventeenth century witnessed a proliferation of calligraphers who developed idiosyncratic styles. Wang Duo, a renowned scholar-official of the period was among a number of calligraphers—including Fu Shan, whose work is displayed to the right—who transformed traditional calligraphic styles into personal idioms of individual expression. Wang’s primary models were the letters of Wang Xizhi (303–361), one of the most famous calligraphers in Chinese history—whose work is on display in the case opposite—and his son, Wang Xianzhi (344–386). Through persistent copying and concentrated study, Wang Duo transformed the classical elegance of these fourth-century styles into his own inventive artistic language. In this work, Wang shuns faithful copying of classical texts; instead, he approximates them with little regard for readability, haphazardly omitting characters and entire lines. The texts function simply as mediums for calligraphic expression.
"The checklist of the John B. Elliott Bequest," Record of the Princeton University Art Museum 61 (2002): p. 49-99.