Horses and Keepers

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Artist: Formerly attributed to Yan Liben (ca. 600-674)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th to 19th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W: 27.6 x 187.2 cm (10 7/8 x 73 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, horse, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)

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. 686, 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)


Compositions such as this, showing grooms engaged in the care and feeding of horses set against a blank background, are typical of the works of Ren Renfa (1255–1328), one of the great horse painters of the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). Ren's sons and grandsons continued to depict horses in the family style, which gradually came to define a chief current in the classical mainstream of horse painting in China. In this handscroll, both figures and horses are drawn with fine lines; washes of ink and color were added later. While this painting is typical of the Ren family style, the flatness of the figures and other shortcomings in execution clearly indicate that it is a much later copy or an adaptation of an earlier model.

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

Copyright with museum