Image: 48 5/8 x 20 1/4 in. (123.5 x 51.4 cm)
Overall with mounting: 87 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. (222.3 x 65.4 cm)
Overall with knobs: 87 1/2 x 29 15/16 in. (222.3 x 76 cm)
The C. C. Wang Family Collection, Gift of C. C. Wang, 1997
Not on view
Executed at the height of the artist's career, Two Horses is a study in complements: dark and light horses; earthen shoreline and rocky outcrop; and contrasting species of trees. Charged with distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, Qian's imagery seems to reflect the powerful contending forces with which he had to deal during his precariously balanced career. His distinctive use of shading to model forms reveals the growing impact of European engravings and painting techniques on Chinese artists of this period. A noted calligrapher who also specialized in the painting of horses, Qian Feng is best known for twice risking his life by bringing charges against unscrupulous officials linked to the Qianlong emperor's favorite, the notoriously corrupt Heshen (1758–1799). Since the connoisseurship of fine horses was a metaphor for the ability to judge and select men for government service, Qian's artistic specialization was particularly appropriate in light of his official duties, which required him to evaluate the performance of his peers in the bureaucracy.
Signature: The artist has added a one-column inscription along the righthand margin that reads: For the pure enjoyment of Mr. Yunfu. Early autumn in the guiqiu year (1793). [signed] Feng, followed by two artist's seals: Fengyin; Nanyuan
Marking: Collectors' seals: Xia Tingjianding Xia Ting cang shuhua yin Bo ? miwan Yan shi ziyizhai cang shuhua yin ? zhai mishang ? ? shi zhi miqu zhi yin