Six Horses

Artist: Unidentified Artists Chinese, 13th c. (1st half scroll); 14th c. (2nd half)

Date: 13th–14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on paper

Dimensions: Image: 18 3/16 x 66 1/4 in. (46.2 x 168.3 cm)
Overall with mounting: 18 9/16 x 254 3/4 in. (47.1 x 647.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988

Accession Number: 1989.363.5


The disparities in paper, pigment, and style between the two halves of this painting make it clear that they are by different hands and from different periods. In the first half of the painting, the horses and figures are well drawn and there is a rough vigor in the depiction of the landscape and trees. The shading of the land forms and the bold modulated outlines defining the figures, who wear typical Khitan costumes, most closely resemble murals done in the eleventh and twelfth centuries in north China, then ruled by the Khitan Liao dynasty (907–1125). In the second half, the unmodulated, "iron-wire" lines used to describe the drapery folds of the rider, the heavy outline of the rock, and the dry calligraphic texture of the tree suggest a fourteenth-century date.