Shen Zhou: On Growing a Beard

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On Growing a Beard (書化鬚疏帖)

Shen Zhou (沈周, 1427-1509), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Handscroll, ink on paper, 28.4 x 464.4 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       Shen Zhou's friend, Zhao Mingyu, was old but did not have a beard. When another friend Yao Cundao heard of it, he asked Zhou Zongdao (who had a full beard) to help by giving him ten whiskers. Shen Zhou lent his support with this handscroll done in large running script. The brush is penetrating yet stable, the characters upright and well-spaced. The style resembles Huang Tingjian’s (黃庭堅, 1045-1105), but with Shen's own slightly heavier mannerism.

Shen Zhou: On Growing a Beard