Shen Du - Ming Dynasty

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       Shen Du (沈度, 1357-1434) was a calligrapher of the Ming Dynasty. His courtesy name was Minze (民則) and pseudonym Zile (自樂). He was from today’s Shanghai (上海).

       In 1403 the Ming ordered seeking calligraphy master hand, upon which Shen was chosen to be a compiler at the Imperial Academy. Enjoyed his calligraphy so much that Emperor Yongle (明成祖朱棣) praised him “Wang Xizhi (王羲之) of modern times” and entrusted him with transcription of the most important official documents. Shen was capable of many styles, but his best point was regular script in small characters.

       Shen Du’s most well-known piece is a self-conduct exhortation by Zhu Xi (朱熹), the founder of Neo-Confucianism. His characters are well-shaped; his brushstrokes are clean and calm. Meeting the needs of a script standard in imperial examination, his calligraphy led off the lasting relay of the Official Style (臺閣體, 又稱館閣體). His younger brother Shen Can (沈粲), also a compiler at the Imperial Academy, wrote a similar hand. Collectively they are known as the “Two Shens”.

Masterpieces by Shen Du (view the entire calligraphy gallery)