Horse and Groom, after Li Gonglin

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Artist: Zhao Yong 趙雍 (1291-1361)
Historical period(s)
Yuan dynasty, 1347
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 31.5 x 73.5 cm (12 3/8 x 28 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, copy, horse, WWII-era provenance, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)
Provenance research underway.

Born into an artistic family, Zhao Yong was the second son of Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), the most famous artist of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). In this short handscroll, Zhao copied his composition directly from the first image of the famous "Five Horses" handscroll by the eminent Northern Song (960-1127) scholar-official painter Li Gonglin (ca. 1041-1106), one of the most influential painters of horses in the Chinese tradition. While Li typically employed monochrome ink line drawing to render his subjects, Zhao Yong carefully shaded the body of the horse with ink wash and painted the groom's robe with a bright red pigment.

About four hundred years later during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1735-96), who owned the scroll, inscribed the frontispiece to the painting's right with four large characters in running script that read, "I love its divine nobility."

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. "画中人 上海书画出版社." Chinese Figure Painting. Shanghai, China. .
  • Vassar College. Chinese Painting, Seventy-Fifth Anniversay Exhibition, May 22 to June 10, 1940. Exh. cat. Poughkeepsie. pl. IVb.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: pp. 232-3.
  • Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt. Chinese Ladies in the Istanbul Albums. no. 1. fig. 78.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 6: pl. 27.
  • Max Loehr. The Great Painters of China. Icon Editions, 1st U.S. edition. Oxford. fig. 81.
  • Jan Fontein, Rose Hempel. China, Korea, Japan. Propylaen Kunsgeschichte Berlin. pl. 164.
  • 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. 6.
  • James Cahill. Ch'ien Hsuan and His Figure Paintings. vol. 12 Honolulu. figs. 1-3.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 61, vol. 1: p. 167.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 15.
  • Tian ma shen jun: Zhongguo ma de yi shu he wen hua [Heavenly Horse: The Horse in Chinese Art and Culture]. Exh. cat. Hong Kong. p. 49.
  • The Editors of Time-Life Books. China. Library of Nations Amsterdam. p. 92.
  • Judith Burling, Arthur H. Burling. Chinese Art. New York. p. 115.
  • Geoffrey Parker. The World: An Illustrated History. London. pp. 166-67.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Figure Painting. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 44, pp. 174-177.
  • Charles Patrick Fitzgerald. The Horizon History of China. New York. p. 230.
  • Rene Grousset. Chinese Art and Culture. New York. p. 248.
  • Chia-Ching. Pi tien chu lin, Shih chu pao chi san pien. 10 vols., Taipei. p. 3307.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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