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Three Horses and Four Grooms

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June 30, 1320
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People
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Mongols 1206-1368

Three Horses and Four Grooms

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Three Horses and Four Grooms 三駿圖 c. 1320s Ren Renfa 任仁發 (Chinese, 1254-1328) China, Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) Handscroll, ink and color on silk Painting: 28.5 x 137.5 cm (11 1/4 x 54 1/8 in.); Overall: 29.2 x 556.4 cm (11 1/2 x 219 1/16 in.) Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1960.181 DID YOU KNOW? Only the elegant first horse with a white blaze is accompanied by two grooms, as if its lightning speed required extra supervision. DESCRIPTION Ren Renfa's horse images are elegant in appearance and vigorous in spirit. His work attracted not only Chinese scholars but also the Mongols at the imperial court. Inspired by the contemporary scholarly interest in restoring a sense of antiquity in art—an artistic direction led by Zhao Mengfu that exerted a great impact in the Yuan art scene—Ren Renfa, like Zhao Mengfu, modeled his depictions of horses after the Song master Li Gonglin. Another key style component that Ren introduced to this genre was a revival of the Tang classical tradition. The refined color treatment of the horses as seen here was derived from the Tang master Han Gan. INSCRIPTION 月山道人. [印] 任氏子明 INSCRIPTION TRANSLATION Artist's signature and seal: Yue shan dao ren. [seal] Ren shi zi ming. INSCRIPTION 1 colophon and 16 additional seals: 1 poem, 1 colophon dated 1552 or 1612, and 3 seals of Wang Yiying 王一瀛 (1500s); 2 seals of Liang Qingbiao 梁清標 (1620-1691); 6 seals of the Qianlong 乾隆 Emperor (r. 1736-95); 3 seals of the Jiaqing 嘉慶 Emperor (r. 1796-1821); 1 seal of the Xuantong 宣統 Emperor (r. 1908-12); 1 seal of Yu Xiezhong 余協中 (1900s). INSCRIPTION Poem and colophon by Wang Yiying 王一瀛 (1500s): As for painters of horses in the previous dynasty, Surely the name of Yueshan [Ren Renfa] must come first. Under his brush and on his silk, They seem to have just galloped out from the imperial stud. Now as the world overflows with inferiority, Who, from the stable, can recognize a dragon-horse amidst mediocrity. Ren Yueshan [Ren Renfa] of the Yuan Dynasty was best in horse paintings. The three fine steeds he painted in this scroll are so dashing, so vigorous in spirit that they have indeed grasped some of the "brush-idea" of Han Gan. Not long ago this painting came into the possession of Mr. Gui Shanquan, who asked for my inscription. And I, while reading the old manuscripts of Hengshan [Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559], by accident, came cross the poem quoted above. As the ancients said "in painting horses, Master Han was [inspired by and produced] real horses; in composing poems, Master Su [Su Dongpo, the leading Song poet] wrote as if a painting were before him." These are truly what should be considered the two excellences; indeed, they are to be treasured. In the sixth month of the renzi year [either 1552 or 1612]. Jian feng shan ren [The Mountain Dweller of the Sword Peak], Wang Yiying, written in the Qu si ting Pavilion at Chiyang. PROVENANCE 1500s Gui Shanquan 桂山泉 [1500s] second half of the 1600s Liang Qingbiao 梁清標 [1620–1691] 1736-1911 Qing imperial collection (seals of Emperors Qianlong, r. 1736–1795, Jiaqing, r. 1796–1820, and Xuantong, r. 1909–1911), Beijing, China after 1911-before 1960 Yu Xiezhong 余協中 [1900s] ?-1960 (Frank Caro [1904-1980], New York, NY, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art) 1960- The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH CITATIONS Ferguson, John C 福開森. Li dai zhu lu hua mu 歷代著錄畵目. Nanjing: Chin-ling University, Zhong guo wen hua yan jiu suo 金陵大學中國文化硏究所, 1934. p. 81(b) Lee, Sherman E. and Wai-Kam Ho. “Three Horses and Four Grooms.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 48, no. 4, 1961, pp. 66–71. Reproduced and Mentioned: pp. 66-71 www.jstor.org Chinese Art: An Exhibition of Paintings, Jades, Bronzes and Ceramics: Being a Contribution Made by Smith College Museum of Art to the College Interim Session, 1962. Northampton, Massachusetts: The Smith College Museum of Art, 1962. cat. no. 14 Lee, Sherman E. A History of Far Eastern Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1964. Reproduced: p. 405, fig. 536 Sullivan, Michael. Chinese and Japanese Art. New York: Grolier, 1965. Reproduced: p. 66, fig. A The Cleveland Museum of Art. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art/1966. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1966. Reproduced: p. 262 archive.org Lee, Sherman E., and Wai-kam Ho. Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yüan Dynasty, 1279-1368. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art; [distributed by the Press of Case Western Reserve University], 1968. cat. no. 188 The Cleveland Museum of Art. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art/1969. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1969. Reproduced: p. 262 archive.org The Cleveland Museum of Art. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art/1978. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1978. Reproduced: p. 346 archive.org Ho, Wai-kam, Sherman E. Lee, Laurence Sickman, and Marc F. Wilson. Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1980. Reproduced: cat. no. 94, p. 115 Lee, Sherman E., and Wai-kam Ho. The Nature and Significance of the Collection of Liang Ch'ing-Piao. Taipei, Taiwan: Chung-hua ming-kuo, 1981. Mentioned: p. 138, no. 196 Harrist, Robert E., and Virginia Bower. Power and virtue: the horse in Chinese art. New York: China Institute, 1997. Reproduced: cat. no. 21, p. 92 Lazzari, Margaret R., and Dona Schlesier. Exploring Art: A Global, Thematic Approach. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. Reproduced: p. 442, fig. 15.9 Sung, Hou-mei. Decoded Messages: The Symbolic Language of Chinese Animal Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Reproduced: p. 203, fig.102 McCausland, Shane. Zhao Mengfu: Calligraphy and Painting for Khubilai's China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2011. Reproduced: pp. 152-153, fig 2.18 Chou, Ju-hsi and Anita Chung. Silent poetry: Chinese paintings from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2015. Reproduced: pp. 117-121 EXHIBITION HISTORY Chinese Art: an exhibition of paintings, jades, bronzes and ceramics. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts (1962). Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yüan Dynasty, 1279-1368. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (October 1-November 24, 1968) Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (November 7, 1980-January 4, 1981); The Cleveland Museum of Art (February 10-March 29, 1981); Tokyo National Museum (October 4-November 17, 1982). Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 120). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (March 11-July 13, 2004). Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 242). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (November 21, 2013-July 28, 2014). Year in Review - Nineteen Hundred Sixty. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (November 30, 1960-January 1, 1961). Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (November 7, 1980-January 4, 1981); The Cleveland Museum of Art (February 10-March 29, 1981); Tokyo National Museum (October 4-November 17, 1982). Power and Virtue: Images of Horses in Chinese Art. China Institute Gallery (organizer) (September 13-December 13, 1997). Silent Poetry: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (November 14, 2015-April 24, 2016).

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.

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