Celestial Horses

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Artist: Formerly attributed to Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322)
Historical period(s)
Late Ming dynasty, 17th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 30 x 469 cm (11 13/16 x 184 5/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, horse, man, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

To 1909
Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, in 1909 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 656, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), Loon Gu Sai was possibly Lunguzhai, a store in the antiques district of Liulichang.
This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Loon Gu Sai (C.L. Freer source)


More than seventy horses in various poses and activities are depicted in this unusually long handscroll. Perhaps these are the fine horses of an imperial stable with equerries (officers of a prince or nobleman charged with the care of horses) training, feeding, and judging them. The act of judging horses was a metaphor of keen mental discernment in general, and it held strong symbolic overtones about a person's ability to distinguish human qualities as well.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum