Ye Zhongsan began painting horses and donkeys in 1895. While he painted his chosen theme prolifically, he took pains to vary the compositions. For other examples of his early work, see H. Moss, Snuff Bottles of China, nos. 383 and 384; and Moss, Graham and Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 521, for a bottle painted with the Eight Horses of Mu Wang.
This seal of the artist, Huayin, appears only on his works from the early years. After 1900 he no longer used it, reverting to the simple yin (seal) which continued in use by the family into the mid-twentieth century.
Horses came to symbolize men of talent because the character jun (steed) is a homonym for the word meaning "a talented man." The motif conveys the wish, "May you be one of the talented people."