Horses and Grooms Crossing a River

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Artist: Traditionally attributed to Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322)
Historical period(s)
Yuan or early MIng dynasty, 14th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 16.8 x 87 cm (6 5/8 x 34 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, horse, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), river, water, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)

Fukushima Company, New York 1931 [1]

From 1931
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Fukushima Company, New York in 1931 [2]


[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note.

[2] See note 1. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s)

Fukushima Company


Zhao Mengfu, a descendant of the Song (960-1279) royal family, was a multitalented artist who lived during the early Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and is regarded as the leading painter and calligrapher of his time. He was skillful in a wide range of subject matter, such as landscape, figure, horse, and bird-and-flower painting. According to his own statement, Zhao learned to draw horses at a relatively young age and believed that his paintings were able to capture the true inner nature of a horse.

In this short handscroll, Zhao depicts three grooms and fifteen horses in various postures crossing a river. By combining the colorful realism of the Tang dynasty (618-907) with the ink line drawing of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) literati tradition, Zhao Mengfu established a new direction for his fellow painters during the transitional years of the late thirteenth century. While the painting does not exhibit the superb skill and fluency of the artist's genuine works, it is probably a close copy of an original composition by Zhao and may have been executed by one of his more accomplished followers.

Published References
  • Nicole Vandier-Nicolas. Chinese Painting: Expression of a Civilization. New York. figs. 130-131.
  • Osvald Siren. A History of Early Chinese Painting. 2 vols., London. vol. 2, pl. 103.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. pl. 18.
  • Kinjiro Harada. The Pageant of Chinese Painting. Tokyo. pl. 260.
  • The Encyclopedia of World Art. 17 vols., New York, 1959-1968. pl. 199.
  • William Cohn. Chinese Painting. London and New York. pl. 135.
  • Chang Yuan-chien. Jen ch'i t'u and the Horse and Figure Painting of Chao Meng-fu. vol. 17, nos.3-4 Taipei, July/October 1982. pl. 24.
  • Mabel Irene Huggins. The Year of the Horse. vol. 21, no. 7 Uniontown, PA, July 1966. pp. 12-17.
  • Guner Inal. Artistic Relationship Between the Far and Near East as Reflected in the Miniatures of the Gami-at-Tawarih. vol. 10, pts.1/2, 1975-1976. pp. 108-143, fig. 18.
  • Yuka Kadoi. Islamic Chinoiserie: The Art of Mongol Iran. Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art Edinburgh. p. 129, fig. 4.5.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. pp. 214-215.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. p. 420, fig. 396.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum