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'Revisiting Ten-thousand-willow Hall' in running script



Gui Dian


1865 - 1958


‘For the third time I came to visit Ten-thousand-willow Hall,
Reading books shall never pass, but now I am fully occupied gazing at mountains.
The fine afternoon scent of flowers lingers around the quiet veranda,
In the shade of wutong trees the autum is wearing on, and the entire house is cool.
Wandering above the dustless lake my dream alone feels chilly,
On top of the pavilion a flute echoes from far away.
While preparing the paper I realise I have stopped writing for some time,
I feel ashamed when I recite Lian’s wonderful line ‘the setting sun’.’
Inscription and signature: [Lian] Huiqing once wrote the famous line, ‘The setting sun through tree grove replenishes the red of blossoms’, which won him the name of ‘Setting-sun Lian’. Revisting the Little Ten-thousand-willow Hall, written for Ms Liu Zhen by Gui Dian at Kowloon [in Hong Kong] in the summer of the year 'wuyin' [1938].

The Little Ten-thousand-willow Hall, located at the West Lake in Hangzhou, was built originally during Guangxu’s reign (r1875–1908) as a retreat by Lian Huiqing, a famous painter, seal carver, poet and collector in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. During the Xuantong period (1909–11) a rich businessman, Jiang Guobang, bought and expanded it; thereafter its name was changed to Jiangzhuang, and it remains one of best preserved private gardens in Hangzhou today.

This poem conveys a melancholy feeling which is embodied in the serene scenery: autumn is wearing on, the soul withers. The poet seems to express a spiritual helplessness with a sigh: he has let time slip by without accomplishing anything. Tension is created between the conflicting images of enduring nature and an idle old man. The work reflects another feature of Gui Dian’s calligraphic style, which quite suits the sentiment expressed. Here, the spaciousness and breadth of the Yan-Liu style seen in the couplet of the previous entry have disappeared: the script is rather slim, pretty, feminine and loose, rather than upright, muscular and controlled.

‘The Poetic Mandarin: Chinese Calligraphy from the James Hayes Collection’. pg.110.
© 2005 Art Gallery of New South Wales


Place where the work was made




Media category


Materials used

hanging scroll; ink on paper


34.3 x 96.5 cm image; 36.3 x 99.5 cm scroll

Signature & date

Signed l.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink " the summer of the year of Wuyin (1938), written by Gui Dian at Kowloon (in Hong Kong).".
Signed l.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Guidian changshou [artist's seal]".
Signed l.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Hanlin sanguan yisan [artist's seal]".
Signed u.r., in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Rulin houren [artist's seal]".


Gift of Dr. James Hayes 2005


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Gui Dian

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


LIU Yang, The poetic mandarin: Chinese calligraphy from the James Hayes collection, Sydney, 2005, 110, 111 (illus.).