28 May 2010
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
85 x 33 cm. (33½ x 13 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
Dedicated to Huaisun
Dated xinsi year (1941)
Xu's paintings of animals reveal that he projected onto them his emotions and hopes, reflecting a longing for a beautiful future. While paying attention to accurate anatomical proportions and introducing fixed-point perspective, Xu maintained traditional compositional qualities in his pictorial spatial structure, with beauty as his ultimate aesthetic goal.
This painting was created at a time when the Chinese people were desperately trying to maintain and reestablish their identity under the shadows of the Japanese war, colonialism, and Western influence. They sought an artistic language that reflected their place in the modern world, as well as their national identity. Xu managed to show the uncertainty of the horse, resting, yet unsure whether it had found peace or only a brief pause from battle.
Lot 170, 18 May 1989, Fine Modern Chinese Paintings, Sotheby's Hong Kong.
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Jin Shan ed. Xu Beihong, the Master of Fine Arts, Lion Art Company Ltd., Taipei, 1990, p.20.
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