The Art History Archive - Chinese Art
By Brandi Leigh - 2008.
Huang Tingjian was born in 1045 in the Jianxi province of China. He spent his life mastering the skills of calligraphy and is known for the beauty of his penmanship. He is most famous for his calligraphy, however his paintings and poetry are also well admired.
Huang grew up in a family of artists, but when his father passed away in 1058 he was sent to live with his uncle, Li Chang. Huang was educated in Confucian classics as well as Chinese history and literature at the Su Shi school of literati painting. By 1067 he had received a degree in jinshi (advanced scholar), and spent the next 16 years in different positions around China. Huang is also known as the founder of the Jiangxi school of poetry.
Huang never held a very high ranking position in any of his employment due to an association with the “anti-reform faction”; in 1085 this faction came into power and Huang was able to join the staff at the History Institute. However this changed quickly when the reformers returned to power and he was sent into exile. During his exile he spent time in both the Sichuan and Fuzhou provinces. There was a brief reprieve and Huang was able to return to a position in the Wuhan province, however upon his return he was exiled almost immediately to Guangxi where he spent the remainder of his time until his death a few months later.
Huang has been called the most creative calligrapher of the Song Dynasty. He not only mastered the size and spacing of the character, but his style is very fluid which makes for beautiful characters. There is a Huang Tingjian memorial, which is located in Xiushui County of the Jiangxi Province. The memorial is a museum which opened to the public in 1985 and is dedicated to the memory of Huang; the museum currently holds over 427 relics. There are two exhibitions in the museum: The Life and Story of Huang Tingjian and The Exhibition of Historical Relics of Xiushui County. The memorial also published a book about the life of Huang Tingjian.
Calligraphy by Huang Tingjian