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XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)

Galloping Horse

XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
Galloping Horse
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
117 x 56.7 cm. (46 1⁄8 x 22 3⁄8 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
Dated 20 December, twenty-seventh year (of the Republic, 1938)
Mestres da Pintura Chinesa Sec. XX, Galeria Jean Boghici, Brazil, 1982, p.35.
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Galeria Jean Boghici, Mestres da Pintura Chinesa Sec. XX, 16 September - 8 October, 1982.
Post lot text
In 1982, the landmark exhibition Mestres da Pintura Chinesa Sec. XX (Twentieth Century Chinese Painting Masters) took place in the Jean Boghici Gallery in Brazil. It was the first large scale exhibition of Chinese art in the history of Brazil. The show was sponsored by Brazilian diplomat Josias Leão and his wife Ruth and featured important 20th-century Chinese ink paintings, such as works by Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong and others. These works came from various private collections in Hong Kong. Artists and collectors Ding Yanyong, Luis Chan, and renowned cultural figure Lau Siu Lui all supplied paintings to the exhibition, with many paintings dedicated to them.
The present lots were part of a private Brazilian collection, of which four works were showcased in the exhibition and illustrated in the exhibition catalogue. Apart from these four, the collector also acquired work by Lin Fengmian. The collection has remained in Brazil ever since, emerging in the market for the first time in four decades.

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Lot Essay

Xu Beihong first followed the National Central University and moved to Chongqing after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War. In 1938, via Guilin, he travelled east along Xi River to get to Malaysia. In November, he arrived in Hong Kong. During his stay in the city, he met up with many friends and had reunion gatherings. He also introduced his recent works during the Exhibition of Important Chinese Paintings held at Fung Ping Shan Library.
Galloping Horse was created during this period. The horse in the painting, with four horseshoes all in the air, runs at full speed. The fierce wind stirs the grass underneath while the horse turns its head around. The picture is so dynamic that it seems as if the horse will leap out of the paper. Xu specializes in painting horses, and he took up this subject even more frequently since the outbreak of the war, as in Chinese culture, horses represent the virtue of a good soldier: persistent, unyielding, valiant and forceful. The artist often inscribes with related poems corresponding to the painting to comment on the warfare and to inspire the Chinese people.
However, in this painting, one could not find such verses. According to the inscription, Xu made this painting late on the night of December 20th, 1938. The artist went to have dinner at the invitation of a French friend and had two cups of strong coffee that kept him awake. He further wrote that he was “in distress and anxiety” so he got up and started painting. He did not realize it turned daylight until he finished this painting. The present work is one full of the artist’s emotions and sensitivities. On reflection, it was a time of national calamity and personal struggles for the artist, both of which he found difficult to share with others. These thoughts and emotions found their outlet in this painting, transforming the present work into a unique piece among his works of the same subject; it is a window into the artist’s mind.

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