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Asian art

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Poem in cursive style


YU Shaozhi


early 17th century -


Of all the arts of China calligraphy is the most esteemed. It embodies the highest visual, philosophic and aesthetic ideals of the scholar for whom proficiency in the Four Accomplishments - painting, calligraphy, poetry and chess - was a fundamental objective, indeed a necessity. Of equal significance are the Three Perfections: painting, poetry and calligraphy, with calligraphy again deemed to be the highest achievement because it combined the beauty and morality of ideas and poetry with the visual eloquence of writing. In consequence, as much emphasis was placed on the expressiveness and aesthetic fluency of calligraphy as on its meaning. Of the many groups and styles of calligraphy, the cursive or 'caoshu' - literally 'grass script' - style is among the most expressive. It is distinguished by its spontaneity, speed and dynamic energy, but always without compromising the legibility of the characters.The scroll comprises three poems composed by the artist, under the overall title 'Constantly changing clouds', which is written in four large characters at the beginning. While little is known of Yu Shaozhi, except that he came from Wuyuan in Anhui province, the status of this work is confirmed in a poetic inscription dated 1916 by the great late Qing dynasty master Wu Changshuo (1844-1927) which praises the quality of this calligraphy.
Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 255.


Other Title

Constantly changing clouds

Place where the work was made


Media category


Materials used

handscroll: ink on paper


31.0 x 318.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed.,c.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "Yu Shaozi".
Signed.,c.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink, "Zi Shou [artist's seal]".


Edward and Goldie Sternberg Chinese Art Purchase Fund 1991


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

YU Shaozhi

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Edmund Capon, Orientations, 'Asian Collections in the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 76-79, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 77 (colour illus.). fig.2. The image is in detail.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 255 (colour illus.). The image is in detail.

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 5, (illus. cover).

Jackie Menzies, AGNSW Collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 202 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Landscape Painting', Sydney, 2003, 156 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 156 is a detail of this work.

Vaughan Rees, Art-i-facts: Book Two, an exploration of ideas in drawing, Sydney, 1998, 10 (colour illus.). titled 'Constantly changing clouds'