Attributed to Huang Zongdao (Chinese, active ca. 1120)
Formerly Attributed to Li Zanhua (Chinese, 899–936)
Northern Song (960–1127) or Jin (1115–1234) dynasty
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
Image: 9 11/16 × 31 1/16 in. (24.6 × 78.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 10 1/8 in. × 22 ft. 7 1/4 in. (25.7 × 689 cm)
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1982
Not on view
As he hits his prey, the hunter on his pony is ready with a second arrow in his left hand. The powerful horse is shown in an animated “flying gallop,” with bulging muscles suggesting the frenzied excitement of the chase, while the delicately rendered deer presents a moving portrait of a gentle victim and death.
Hunting was an ancient aristocratic pastime, especially favored as a pictorial theme by the naturalized nomad painter Prince Li Zanhua, to whom this painting was once attributed. By the late Northern Song period, scholar-critics had begun to treat the hunting scene as an allegory of violence and greed. Both the painting style and the psychological interpretation of the subject matter suggest an early-twelfth-century date for this work.
An unusually fine collection of colophons is attached to the scroll. In 1352 Zhu Derun (1294–1365) attributed the painting to Li Zanhua. Three other fourteenth-century colophons are followed by a poem by the great Suzhou painter Shen Zhou (1427–1509). The senselessness of violence, as portrayed by the hunt, is lamented by all the colophon writers
Inscription: No artist's inscription, signature or seals
Other inscription on painting
Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (1711–1799; r. 1736–1795), 11 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1765; 2 seals: