Attributed to Han Gan / Night-Shining White / Tang dynasty (618-907), 8th centuryAttributed to Han Gan
Night-Shining White
Tang dynasty (618-907), 8th century

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Creator Name: Han Gan
Creator Qualifier: Attributed to
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: Chinese, active 742-756
Creator Name-CRT: Attributed to Han Gan
Title: Night-Shining White
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 799
Creation Date: Tang dynasty (618-907), 8th century
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: handscroll; ink on paper
Dimensions: 12 1/8 x 13 3/8 in. (30.8 x 34 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1977.78
Credit Line: Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1977

Han Gan, a leading horse painter of the Tang dynasty (618-907), was known for portraying not only the physical likeness of a horse but also its spirit. This painting, the most famous work attributed to the artist, is a portrait of Night-Shining White, a favorite charger of the emperor Xuanzong (712-756). The fiery-tempered steed, with its burning eye, flaring nostrils, and dancing hooves, epitomizes Chinese myths about imported 'celestial steeds' that 'sweat blood' and were really dragons in disguise. This sensitive, precise drawing, reinforced by delicate ink shading, is an example of 'baihua' (white painting) a term used in Tang texts on painting to describe monochrome painting with ink shading, as opposed to full color painting. The later term 'baimiao' (white drawing) denotes line drawing without shading, as seen in the paintings of Li Gonglin (ca. 1041-1106). The numerous seals and inscriptions added to the painting and its borders by later owners and experts are a distinctive feature of Chinese collecting and connoisseurship. While collectors are sometimes overzealous in showing their appreciation in this manner, the addition of seals and comments by later viewers served to record a work's transmission and offer vivid testimony of an artwork's continuing impact on later generations.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1977.78
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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