MAGNIFICENT BRONZE GALLOPING HORSE
Western Han Dynasty 206 B.C. - A.D. 8
This is solid material - DI best
110 x 132 cm
A superbly sculptured young stallion in galloping posture with only the right front leg touching the ground, cast separately in nine sections with arched neck, docked mane, robust body, neatly bound tail and four legs showing strong tendons and ligaments, the enlarged and well-rendered head, turning slightly to the right, with mouth wide open and tongue stuck out on the left, pricked ears on top and flared nostrils in front, all accented with deeply incised lineation, overall in an appealing green malachite and blue azurite patination.
This magnificent statue represents the best model of celestial horse being imported to China along the Silk Road from Ferghana in Central Asia, and it is the largest and the finest in art among all bronze horses ever found and seen from the Han dynasty. The entire sculpture was cast with emphasis on the modeling of a large skeletal structure with well developed muscles, especially on the cheeks, the chest, the forearms and the buttock, as if it was a real living creature. While most others are in standing or trotting posture, the galloping stallion emits a much stronger sense of motion and is one of the liveliest and the most dynamic sculptures in art history. It is a classical work of ancient Chinese aesthetics, a masterpiece in well combination of realism
and romanticism with rich imagination and skillful craftsmanship.
There are only about ten bronze horses of such scale in all the museums and private collections worldwide, including those found in archeological excavations throughout China, samples include one being excavated in 1990 from Tomb M2 in Hejiashan, Mianyang, Sichuan, illustrated in Wenwu (Cultural Relics), 1991.3, pl.26; another one being excavated in 1980 from Tomb M31 in Fengliuling, Guixian, Guangxi, illustrated in Zhongguo qingtong qi quanji (Complete Collection of Bronze wares in China), 1993-1998, vol.12, no.22, no.141, p.144. Large bronze horses were mostly found from excavations in Southwest China, principally Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces, with one exception discovered from Tomb M2 in Fangling Village, Xushui, Hebei, illustrated in ibid , vol.12, no.159, p.162.