Horse and Groom, after Li Gonglin
Ink and color on paper
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Born into an artistic family, Zhao Yong was the second son of Zhao Mengfu (12541322), the most famous artist of the Yuan dynasty (12791368). In this short handscroll, Zhao copied his composition directly from the first image of the famous "Five Horses" handscroll by the eminent Northern Song (9601127) scholar-official painter Li Gonglin (ca. 10411106), 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 (16441911), the Qianlong emperor (reigned 173596), 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.