Deng Shiru

Deng Shiru (1743-1805) 鄧石如 was born in Huaining, Anhui province. Deng lived most of his life during the reign of the emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) and began seal carving while still young. His seals attracted the attention of the calligrapher Liang Yan, who introduced Deng to the collector Mei Liu. Deng studied the bronze and stele inscriptions owned by Mei Liu for eight years.

As both a calligrapher and seal carver he acted in rebellion to traditional styles, though he was first influenced by the Hui School. Originally named Yan, he had to change his name to Shiru because his name was the same as that of the Emperor Jiaqing (Yongyan). Deng was never an official and lived a poor existence. However, he was extremely fond of art. He lived by the sale of his artwork and traveled across the country. His unique experiences formed his own characteristics and own unique artistic style. In the best of his seal compositions, he was able to achieve an equilibrium of void and solid and of sparsity and density, for which his seal-script calligraphy is also well known. 

One of the great calligraphers and engravers of the Qing Dynasty, he was admired for his superb sense of design. As founder of the Deng School, he was one of the most important figures of the Bronze and Stone Studies school of calligraphy in the eighteenth century. He was also considered a member of the Wan School founded by He Zhen because he came originally from Anhui (showing the Chinese passion for origins). As a leader of the Stele School, Deng was famous for both his clerical script and seal script calligraphy. In both calligraphy and carving technique, he had his own understanding of seal script and seal carving. He changed the tradition of using square script and instead used natural styles of calligraphy for his seals. He attracted such followers as Wu Xizai, Wu Zi, Zhao Zhiqian, Huang Shiling and Wu Changshuo.

  • Pinyin: Dèng Shírú
  • Wade-Giles: Teng Shih-ju
  • Also known as: Fengshui yuzhang 鳳水漁長; Guhuan; [Guhuanzi] Gu wanzi 故浣子; Longshan qiaozhang 龍山樵長; Wan bai bai 完白; Wanbai shanren 皖白山人; Wanbo 顽伯; Youji daoren 游笈道人
  • Affiliation: Deng School
Deng Shiru's Seal Script Calligraphy

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