In accordance with the “Cultural Heritage Preservation Act,” items in the National Palace Museum’s collections are given one of three designations: “National Treasure,” “Significant Historic Artifact,” or “General Historic Artifact.” Although National Treasures can frequently be found on exhibit in the NPM, in order to make it possible for visitors to enjoy them no matter when they come to the museum, one of the NPM’s galleries has been set aside especially for a series entitled “Spotlight on National Treasures.” For this exhibition series, each season one National Treasure-level painting or calligraphy is put on display in the designated gallery.
- Lin Bu (967-1028), Song dynasty
Lin Bu, who once studied under the official and calligrapher Li Jianzhong (945-1013), lived in reclusion on Solitary Hill (Gushan) at West Lake in Hangzhou. Indifferent to worldly gain and fond of antiquity, he took pleasure in planting plum trees and raising cranes, so much that people would refer to the former as his wife and the latter as his children. Emperor Renzong (1010-1063) later bestowed upon him the posthumous name of “Master Hejing.” Lin Bu’s literary works and letters became much appreciated at the time, with Su Shi (1037-1101) considering his calligraphy similar to that of Li Jianzhong but pure and lean. Critiques through the ages have also compared Lin Bu’s pure and strong calligraphy to his famous line on plum blossoms (“Hidden fragrance, scattered shadows”), his characters delicate yet resilient. Surviving examples of Lin’s calligraphy are quite few, the brushwork in these two letters sharp and powerful with angular turns of the brush fully exposing its tip. The wide and relaxed line spacing further reveals an untrammeled expansiveness that bears dramatic expressiveness.
|Two Letters||Lin Bu||Song dynasty|