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.
Constantly changing clouds
Place where the work was made
Ming dynasty 1368 - 1644 → China
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
Where the work was made
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995
The connoisseur and the philanthropist: 30 years of the Sternberg Collection of Chinese Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jan 2014–27 Apr 2014
Beyond Words: Calligraphic Traditions of Asia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Aug 2016–30 Apr 2017
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'