Stag Hunt

Attributed to Huang Zongdao Chinese
Formerly Attributed to Li Zanhua

Northern Song (960–1127) or Jin (1115–1234) dynasty

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

Stag Hunt, Attributed to Huang Zongdao (Chinese, active ca. 1120), Handscroll; ink and color on paper, China

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.