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Subject:Help with an inscription
Posted By: John R Fri, Nov 10, 2017 IP: 2601:443:c102:2a10:4

I've been researching this painting of 8 horses for
the last 10 years. The long inscription was added by
Ke Jiusi [1271-1368]. I would love to know what he wrote. At the time he wrote it, he was the Imperial
painting connoisseur under the very young Yuan Emperor Wenzhong. I have been told that it refers to
a poem from Huang Tingjian. I can share much more of
my research if there is any interest.

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: I.Nagy Wed, Nov 15, 2017

In my rough translation the poem sounds:
There are thousand of miles (to record) at the end of
my brush
Four hooves thunder and lighten in my chest
A horse herd passes by in the air
Who can ride on a thing like this, free from worldly concerns
The wild wind is so talented to take bridle and rein
(However) the time is doing the same slowly

With regards,

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: rat Wed, Nov 15, 2017

John, the two foreground horses in the Wei Yan painting also appear by a tree in Castiglione's "100 Horses" painting in the NPM. The images at this URL allow you to enlarge details enough to confirm the similarity by rolling your mouse over the relevant section of the "Original Work of Art" photos:

I would think though that because the Wei Yan horses match the shape and proportions (but not nearly the level of detail) of Castiglione's horses rather than what we know of painted representations of Tang horses, that the Wei Yan painting postdates the Castiglione picture. Does the Ke Jiusi inscription on the Wei Yan picture therefore also come from some earlier source? I'm not following.

The poem is indeed by Huang Tingjian, but Google doesn't give me an instance of Ke Jiusi inscribing it. Do you know where the painting is located?



Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: John R Thu, Nov 16, 2017

Thank you, I. Nagy and rat.
I appreciate your help,
All 8 of the horses appear in Castiglione's painting.
Castiglione's 100 Horses were not from his imagination, but were copied from existing
Chinese paintings:
"Emperor Yung-Cheng requested Castiglione, who had proved his talents as a
painter, to execute" ... "a scroll depicting a hundred horses. Castiglione, who was well
acquainted with Chinese tastes, represented the animals rolling on the ground,
gambolling, and frolicking two by two in the fresh, calm atmosphere of the countryside,
just as he had seen them in the paintings suggested to him as models.”
[Giusseppe Castiglione: A Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors
Cecile and Michel Beurdely 1971].
The differences between Castiglione's version of the
8 horses are very interesting. In the case of the 2
horse groups he has changed the placid attitude into
an aggressive behavior. In the case of the downward
walking horse Castiglione has positioned him on flat
land. I am attaching some more images.

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: rat Mon, Nov 27, 2017

Nice, thank you John R. I'm sorry I am only seeing your recent posts now and am as usual buried in work, will sit down and study this as soon as I can! I tend to fly through these posts each day but you've clearly put some time and consideration into your research that deserves more attention

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: John R Thu, Nov 16, 2017

more pictures

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: John R Mon, Nov 27, 2017

My extensive research on the 8 horse painting included, the history of the
horse in Chinese art , literature, and paintings, especially Castiglione's
horse paintings. Why did Castiglione present some of his horses in the act of
biting? He would never have seen anger or violence presented in Chinese art.
It simply did not exist in the Chinese artistic psyche. There is an ancient fable
told of an imperial horse who jealously bit a horse of state, but he then
suffered both remorse and regret. Was it as a display of Castiglione’s own anger
directed at the Emperor? According to history, his anger would have been justified.
“In reality, the placid, bucolic impression that Lang Shinang gave to One Hundred
Horses could not be farther from what was happening in every-day life of the
Jesuit Castiglione in his workshop in the Forbidden City. In spite of the Jesuit
presence at the court, persecution of Christians had become widespread by the
time Kangxi died and proselytizing by missionaries was severely repressed,
especially during the reign of his son, Yongzheng. Anti-Christian sentiment made
the Jesuit presence at court fraught with tension, ambiguities, and often downright
danger. On the one hand, as an imperial servants, it was necessary to please the
Emperor's every whim, and all of the Qing emperors were exacting taskmasters.
This difficult, relentless, artistic output had to be done cheerfully and calmly by
the Jesuits in the face of individual members of their order being imprisoned, harrased,
and even executed. But then came a mandate of expulsion for all missionaries except
those, like Castiglione, who were specifically working for the emperor-these were
simply put under house arrest, and even old Father Pedreni, the famous musician and
former tutor of the new emperor, was imprisoned. This recession was still in effect
when Yongzheng died in 1735.”
[Lauren Arnold, Pacific Rim Report April 2003 Dark Days for the Jesuits in the Forbidden City]

I had stated in my last post Catiglione was ordered to use horse paintings from
The imperial collection as models for his 100 Horses. Which paintings did
Castiglione use? I’ve identified some of the paintings of horses Castiglione likely
used as models for his 100 Horses.These include the horses from Li Gonglin's
[1049-1106] copy of Wei Yan's Pasteuring Horses, the horses from Ren Renfa
[1254–1327], the horses from the paintings of Zhao Mengfu[1254-1322], and
the politically charged, emaciated horse of Gong Kai[1271-1304]. All of these
paintings were in the Imperial collection.

Subject:Re: Help with an inscription
Posted By: John R Tue, Dec 05, 2017

Thank you all for viewing my post. My research on
Castiglione has proven to be very interesting. I
Have more research to share if anyone is interested
I believe that when Castiglione created his 100 Horses
he retained all of his sketches and continued to
use these as templates for virtually all of the
horses that he would paint throughout his career.
I found a strong link to the possibility that
Castiglione was using a form of camera obscura
when making his paintings. I also found evidence
that the current 100 Horses was cropped down
a few inches from its original size. Just
send me a request and I will share my research.
I do not have an academic affiliation so I
appreciate the opportunity to share on the
asian art forum, one of the best moderated
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