Xu Beihong’s (one of the most notable Chinese artist of the 20th century) collection of artworks featuring horses is coming to the Christie's auction this May.
He was primarily known for his Chinese ink paintings of horses and birds and was one of the first Chinese artists to articulate the need for artistic expressions that reflected a modern China at the beginning of the 20th century.
Three Horses, dated xinsi year (1941). Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper. 104.8 x 100.8 cm (41 1/4 x 39 5/8 in). Estimate: USD 500,000-700,000. Offered in Fine Chinese Modern and Contemporary Ink Paintings on 29 May at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Xu Beihong adhered to realism for his whole life. His horse sketching drafts are no less than one thousand pieces. He studied horse anatomy, so he was quite familiar with horse's skeleton, muscles, organs, actions and looks. Different from traditional horse paintings which are of horses’ front and side looks, this painting adopts a 3/4 side perspective and was completed with freehand brushwork method.
The horse, with a strong body and flying pony mane, is running to the viewers, which is full of visual impact. In addition to stenography, Xu Beihong also combined western painting method of fusing shades and light into dark ink, leaving blank in light place and adding ink spots in shadow place. There are fat and thin horses in China traditional horse paintings, and horses painted by Xu Beihong are mainly thin, tall and with strong characters.
But when he painted horses, he abandoned the sadness of thin horses normally painted by literati, but conveyed a positive and optimistic attitude towards life through horses’ high-spirited attitude. In the historical background when the nation was in peril, Xu Beihong tried to arouse the national spirit with the image of tenacious and strong horse.
Xu Beihong (1895-1953), Galloping Horse, dated xinsi year (1941). Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper. 103.8 x 89.2 cm (40 7/8 x 35 1/8 in). Estimate: USD 300,000-450,000. Offered in Fine Chinese Modern and Contemporary Ink Paintings on 29 May at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Arts and Culture