Zhao Zhiqian (1829 - 1884) is a noted calligrapher, seal-engraver and painter of the Qing Dynasty and was born in Shaoxing City of Zheijiang Province. All his life, he had been pursuing improvements in skills in poem, calligraphy, seal engraving and painting, in doing so, made him one of the best among his contemporaries. He successfully refined the techniques initiated by masters before him and managed to create his own style which is admired even now.
Although a talented artist and knowledgeable scholar, his life wasn’t easy at all. He was born in a wealthy family which had been in business for generations, somehow declined at his young age. Although he became *Xiucai at the age of 20 and *Juren at the age of 30, he failed the metropolitan examinations four times and then quitted his pursuit of higher position in government system. He once sold paintings for a living. At the age of 44, he became the editor in chief of ‘Jiangxi Tongzhi’ – historical records of Jiangxi Province and died as a magistrate at the age of 56.
* In ancient China, imperial examinations of different levels, including entry-level examinations; Provincial exams, Metropolitan exams and Palace exams, have been used to select government officials. Xiucai is the entry-level licentiate and Juren a qualified graduate who passed the three-yearly provincial exam.
His achievements in calligraphy are significant. He did well in almost all styles of calligraphy and left behind a substantial number of excellent works. His contributions to seal-engraving are profound and have significant influence on the later masters. He started a new era of seal engraving by infusing both Zhejiang Style sea engraving with that of Anhui.
At the northern foot of Dingjia Hill in Hangzhou city, a memorial pavilion was built on the old site of his tomb to memorize him.
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