Monday, October 1, 2018

Night-Shining White

From The Metropolitan Page 108 Museum of Art Guide, 1983. Page 108

Click to enlarge.
40 HAN KAN, Tang dynasty, act. ca. 742-56
Night-Shining White
Handscroll; ink on paper; 121/8 x 133/4 in. (30.8 x 34 cm)

Han Kan's portrait of Night-Shining White, one of the favorite horses of the T'ang emperor Ming-huang (r. 712-56), may be the best-known horse painting in Chinese art. Recorded by emi-nent critics almost continuously from the ninth century on, the short handscroll also has a for-midable pedigree in the form of seals and colophons. The animal, with its wild eye, flar-ing nostrils, and prancing hooves, epitomizes Chinese myths about "celestial steeds" that were dragons in disguise. Although the horse is tethered to a sturdy post, Night-Shining White radiates supernatural energy. At the same time it presents an accurate portrayal of a strong, restless animal. The sensitive con-tour lines are reinforced by pale ink-wash modeling in a style known as pai-hua, or "white painting." Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1977, 1977.78

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