Calligraphy with Willow and Swallows

Calligraphy with Willow and Swallows


Ikkyū Sōjun 一休 宗純

(Japanese, 1394-1481)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper

Overall: 104 x 34.8 cm (40 15/16 x 13 11/16 in.)

Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.463



The famed Buddhist monk Ikkyū is best remembered for his calligraphy. Calligraphic conventions of his time called for brushwork that did not vary much in style from character to character. However, as Ikkyū’s lines progress, his brushwork wanders between standard script and a sort of shorthand, marked by an uneven distribution of ink and a reduction of the characters to only the most necessary strokes. Ikkyū’s direct communication of emotion via brushwork became characteristic of the works produced by monks affiliated with the temple Daitokuji later in the Edo period (1615–1868).

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