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View of the Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection in the Shirley Chang Gallery of Chinese Art.
Photo by Neil Kagerer

The Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection

Chinese Calligraphy AT UMMA

Shirley Chang Gallery of Chinese Art

Gifted to UMMA in 2022, the Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection comprises 72 important works of art from six centuries of Chinese history and adds an impressive breadth of works to an already stellar collection of Chinese paintings and ceramics at UMMA.

It is the single most valuable gift of art in the University of Michigan’s history. The Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection is a gift of Jiu-Fong Lo Chang and Kuei-sheng Chang.

About the Collection

The collection, assembled by Lo Chia-Lun, includes artworks dating from the early fourteenth to the early twentieth century, as well as implements such as seals, ink cakes, and cinnabar pads. Most date to two crucial periods of political and socio-economic transition in China: the sixteenth to seventeenth century, and the twentieth century. In the last eighty years, the collection has traveled more than 10,000 miles with the Lo family, across China, Japan, India, Australia, and the United States.

The collection will contribute significantly to contemporary scholarship of from Yuan to Ming dynasty calligraphy and the study of Chinese cultural history. Highlights of the collection include masterpieces by Yang Weizhen (1296-1370), Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940), Chen Duxiu (1879-1942), as well as later artists Xu Beihong (1895-1953) and Zhang Daqian (1899-1983).


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20th century
Zhang Daqian (Chang Ta-ch'ien)
ink on paper

Now on View

To celebrate this transformative gift, selections from the Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy Collection will be on display in UMMA’s Chinese gallery through 2024 and beyond.

Featured Objects Currently on View

Dong Qichang
Album, ink on paper
Wang Chong
Handscroll, ink on paper with silk and gold-flecks
Wang Duo
Handscroll, ink on satin with silk
Zhang Ruitu
Hanging scroll, ink on satin, mounted in brocade
Jiang Chenying
ink on paper
Lo Chia-Lun and his family, 1963. Photo courtesy of Jiu-Fong Lo Chang
Lo Chia-Lun and his family, 1963. Photo courtesy of Jiu-Fong Lo Chang

Meet the Lo Family

Lo Chia-Lun 羅家倫 (1897-1969) was a student leader in China’s “May Fourth Movement” and became a prominent government official in Nationalist China as well as a scholar, calligrapher, poet, and president of two major universities—National Central University and Tsinghua University.

This remarkable gift to UMMA builds upon the Lo family’s history of philanthropy, including previous gifts of Chinese art. “This gift honors not only the legacy of my father, but it also recognizes our family’s deep roots at Michigan and our gratitude for the opportunities U-M afforded us at a time when few Chinese students had the privilege of studying abroad,” said Jiu-Fong Lo Chang.

The Art of Chinese Calligraphy

Seal Script

The earliest script, used for official writing and carving. Each character fits in an imaginary square and the text is arranged in orderly columns.

Clerical Script

Originally used for clerical writing, it is quicker to produce than seal script. It is in less common use today.

Regular Script

The first script learned by most writers of Mandarin today and, because it is so legible, the one used in most print media. It was also the script used for imperial examinations.

Cursive Script

The most spontaneous script, with a notable abbreviation of characters. Because of its expressiveness and the potential for improvisation, it is the script of choice for master calligraphers.

Running Script

This script has the legibility of regular script and the expressive potential of cursive script. It was the preferred script of calligraphers in the Song dynasty (960–1279).

Calligraphy is the most highly regarded form of visual art in China, even above painting.  It is also one of the oldest arts, having been practiced since the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). The flexibility of the calligraphy brush allows for a fluid and expressive line. By tracing this line, a viewer can tell if a stroke was made quickly or slowly, or if the brush was used lightly or with a heavy hand. The more educated the viewer, the greater the sense of communing with the calligrapher and perceiving their mind and spirit.

Chinese calligraphy is comprised of five basic scripts, three formal (seal, clerical, and regular), and two informal (running and cursive). (Western writing has two scripts: printing for formal writing and cursive for informal.) The formal scripts are more uniform. The informal scripts are more spontaneous. Scripts are chosen on the basis of content, mood, occasion, and function. Each calligraphy master develops a unique style within these basic scripts that is expected to showcase their personality.

More From This Collection

See more objects from the Lo Chia-Lun Calligraphy collection. Objects shown here are part of the full collection but may not currently be on view.

Chen Hongshou (Ch'en Hung-shou)
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Zhao Zhiqian
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1883 – 1971
Shen Yinmo
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Dong Qichang
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20th century
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