28 May 2010
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
Scroll,mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
130.8 x 77.5 cm. (51½ x 30½ in.)
Inscribed and signed, with two seals of the artist
Date twenty-seventh year (of the Republic, 1938)
Further inscribed by Xie Wuliang (1884-1964)
Dedicated to Cihe
Dated spring,xinsi year (1941)
A Stallion represents one of the many horses of the calvary on the battlefield, whether racing through the night, resting from battle, or just standing in preparation for the fight. Xu expressed his national pride in his paintings by showing that despite his ambiguous feelings about war, it was inevitable to protect his country. In all of his paintings of horses Xu did not indicate the presence of a saddle or stirrups, indicating that his deepest desire was to see the horses removed from battle, just as the Chinese people should be removed from war, famine and suffering.
Xu always advocated the importance of first sketching out his ideas. He regarded painting as a means to express man's deepest desires at a time when action could not grant freedom. He saw an artist's greatest achievements as when their paintings could reflect the social situation of the time. Xu also created a special seal that reflected the need for freedom and his discontent with the current situation.
There is an additional inscription by Xie Wuliang (1884-1964). A scholar, poet and calligrapher, Xie was an archaeologist and held posts in various museums and academic institutions. In 1937 Xie escaped to Hankou, then Hong Kong, before returning to Chongqing in 1940. This painting, inscribed by Xie in 1941, shows the unrest of war and the fear of the people, like a horse ready for battle, fearful of the sudden cannon blast.
Lot 116, 21 November 1984, Fine Chinese Paintings, Property of the Estate of Dr. Ip Yee, Sotheby's Hong Kong.
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