Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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唐 韓幹 照夜白圖 卷
Night-Shining White

Artist:
Han Gan (Chinese, active ca. 742–756)
Period:
Tang dynasty (618–907)
Date:
ca. 750
Culture:
China
Medium:
Handscroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 12 1/8 x 13 3/8 in. (30.8 x 34 cm) Overall with mounting: 14 in. x 37 ft. 5 1/8 in. (35.4 cm x 11.4 m)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.78
Not on view
A leading horse painter of the Tang dynasty, Han Gan was known for capturing not only the likeness of a horse but also its spirit. This painting, the most famous work attributed to the artist, is a portrait of a charger of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–56). With its burning eye, flaring nostrils, and dancing hoofs, the fiery-tempered horse epitomizes Chinese myths about Central Asian "celestial steeds" that "sweated blood" and were actually dragons in disguise. The seals and inscriptions added to the painting and its borders by later owners and appreciators are a distinctive feature of Chinese collecting and connoisseurship. The addition of more than one thousand years of seals and comments offers a vivid testimony of the work's transmission and its impact on later generations.
The acquisition of this image, arguably the greatest equine portrait in Chinese painting, marked the Director's early commitment to revitalizing the Department of Asian Art under the curatorial leadership of Wen Fong and with the dedicated support of trustee Douglas Dillon.
Inscription: No Artist's inscription, signature, or seal

Other inscriptions

1. Southern Tang emperor Li Yu 南唐後主李煜 (r. 961–975), signed with a cipher, 1 column in standard script, undated:

韓幹畫 《照夜白》。

2. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795), 5 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1746–1647; 2 seals:

於古聞空翼,
而今果識韓。
獨嘶霜月白,
特立朔風寒。
有志凌金絡,
無心憶錦鞍。
丹青曹霸老,
畫肉也應難。
乾隆丙寅仲冬御題。[印]: 幾暇怡情、乾隆宸翰

3. Zhang Yanyuan 張彥遠 (ca. 815–ca. 907), 1 column in standard script, undated:

彥遠

4. Mi Fu 米芾 (1051–1107), 1 character in standard script, undated; 1 seal:

芾 [印]: 平生真賞

Colophons

1. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (1711–1799, r. 1736–1795), 19 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1747; 3 seals:

唐家畫馬稱將軍,弟子入室惟韓幹。
是道所重在傳神,亦如三鬣開生面。
騕褭乘黃稱妙手,駑駘奚足汚筆硯。
霸嘗皃取照夜白,幹亦有之非疑案。
權奇想見自師承,杜老畫肉非相訕。
惜乎轉語未留世,空擬金丹待久煉。
擇師已不屑陳閎,天閑矩矱多無萬。
照夜白真照夜白,却似梨花開月殿。
溫泉曾奉擊毬場,驪山每侍臨光宴。
當時歡樂已蕭條,炯戒詎惟標夢幻。
披圖矯矯見龍性,昂首似憶靈武戰。
試看受勒不受鞍,妙偈已兼滿與半。
介倪闉扼豈馬能,每對騏驎懷木雁。
乾隆丁卯暮春之初御題。 [印]:漱芳潤、乾隆宸翰、擕筆流雲藻

2. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795), 8 columns in small semi-cursive script, dated 1746; 2 seals:

韓幹以畫馬擅名千古,其毛骨色相隨意所匠,冥會通神。嘗閱張彥遠 《名畫記》,知當日供奉明皇朝圖有玉花驄、照夜白,每神往,以不得一見真蹟為憾,且未卜淪落何所也。近有以黃公望《富春山居》等圖求售者,黃蹟固屬僞作,而得幹所畫 《照夜白》 卷,神采飛騰,宛睹沛艾名種,為幹手筆無疑,因命購藏之。既以喜獲償夙願,而因王得羊,遭逢良復不偶云。乾隆丙寅仲冬月望前三日御識。 [印]: 乾、隆

3. Song emperor Gaozong? 宋高宗 (r. 1127–1162), 1 column in standard script, undated

韓幹 《照夜白》

4. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795), 4 columns in semi-cursive script, datable to 1747; 2 seals:

不知誰向車前識,應有人從窗内窺。
乍憶黃沙紫塞外,正當草淺獸肥時。
此今秋題仇英畫馬句也。頃得韓幹是圖,覺筆力更出一頭地,幅前紙質古潤可愛,因書於右。嘉平哉生明又識。 [印]:幾暇怡情、乾隆宸翰

5. Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795), 6 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1757; 2 seals:

古稱照夜白,馬裏泰山韓。
絲絡為誰老,沙場豈慮寒。
駿寧煩贈策,良識不迴鞍。
冀北羣原夥,由來伯樂難。
丁丑春月御題,疊前韻。 [印]:比德、朗潤

6. Xiang Ziyin 向子諲 (1085–1152), 2 columns in standard script, dated 1138:

紹興戊午薌林向子諲同觀于凝香閣。

7. Wu Yue 吳說 (fl. 1115–1156), 2 columns in standard script, undated:

南唐押署所識物多真。吳人吳說

8. Wei Su 危素 (1303–1372), 6 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:

明皇自騎照夜白,駿骨權奇古難得。
韓侯貌取誇風神,蜀道艱關初避賊。
千年名畫世已無,卷端數字南唐書。
包桑之戒真良圖,後來君王置坐隅。
吳越囗君囗囗得韓幹馬,神品也,為賦此。危素記。 [印]:臨川危素

9. Jie Hong 揭汯 (1304–1373), 8 columns in standard script, undated:

韓幹畫馬世無敵,貌得明皇照夜白。
晴雲滿身雪作花,四蹄一動疾飛翼。
跳梁掣柱不受羈,雄心只欲千里馳。
瑤池宴罷幸驪山,霓旌前導鳳輦移。
愛隆日久生新恨,蜀道間關翠華遠。
當日倉皇不得隨,令人看畫增悲惋。
豫章揭汯

10. Zhang Jixian 張繼先 (unidentified[1]), 5 columns in standard script, undated:

囗囗識馬如識玉。今人畫馬惟畫肉,韓侯寫馬只寫神。神駿如龍雙耳騄,渥洼龍種真難摹。韓侯寫真龍出圖,我今始識真龍圖。夜白夜白千古無,夜白夜白千古無。南陽迂拙張繼先

11. Mo Shi’an 莫士安 (late 14th–early 15th c.), 15 columns in standard script, undated; 5 seals:

天寶君王憐駿材,四十萬疋皆龍[馬某]。
空羣獨數照夜白,霜鬉雪鬣無氛埃。
一經拂拭真難比,鞍策銀光射秋水。
馳騁都忘國步艱,精神屢動天顔喜。
南苑霓旌三月新,玉環醉逐海棠塵。
驕嘶直過落花去,紅雨白雲迷好春。
時當妃子同愛惜,詔許將軍貌蹤跡。
愛惜恩多易寂寥,蹤跡年深豈蕭瑟。
白玉墀邊立仗雄,馬嵬坡下踏秋風。
六軍令發雲霄上,匹練香沉泥土中。
蜀道崎嶇龍失隊,載得君王赴西内。
皇帝移軍控馭稀,弟子入室臨摹類。
青絲絡腦黃金鏣,追風逸氣猶飄飄。
當時多少飽蒭豆,按舞却應豬龍妖。
天上房星芒色改,玉骨冰銷已千載。
畫靈不受秋壑羈,別向人間露光彩。
吳興莫士安 [印]:種竹所、螾竅蠅聲、桂林生、莫氏士安、惟恭

12. Chu Weishan 楚惟善 (active early 14th c.), 11 columns in standard script, dated 1320; 2 seals:

嘗讀少陵“觀曹將軍畫馬”詩,有“曾貌先帝照夜白”之句,則是圖本出曹霸。然曹霸、韓幹俱以工畫馬名於唐,韓實霸之弟子,而霸固幹之師也。以弟子摹倣厥師,亦豈無是理歟?觀者勿以此為疑。第誦“幹惟畫肉不畫骨”,質諸是圖益驗。噫!馬微物也,以上所好,至使形於歌詩,見之圖畫,歷千百年使人寳其圖。不翅“金璧鵉車在前,屬車在後,吉行五十里,師行三十里,朕乘千里馬獨先安之?”以是圖參是詔,又有以知漢文之未易及也。時延祐庚申清明前五日,東郡楚惟善伯珤臣父跋。 [印]: 楚氏寳臣、惟善

13. Gai Miao 蓋苗 (1290–1347), 6 columns in standard script, undated:

天馬來西極,
豈受人間羈?
幹亦獨何心,
筆諸圖畫為。
橫披覩神異,
宛若迎風嘶。
睠此奮迅閑廐下,
直恐勢與落日爭分馳。
廼知作者意在萬里外,
童年記得坡仙詩。
西村後人蓋苗

14. Zheng Guigao 鄭桂高 (active mid-14th c.), 10 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1340:

“曾貌先帝照夜白,龍池三日飛霹靂。”其此之謂歟。“幹惟畫骨(點去)肉不畫骨,”少陵固亦云尔。真迹收附良可攷,參之近印尤信。撫卷增慨之餘,惟(點去)為賦一絕云:“一噴能瘖萬馬群,幾何年紙轉精神。可堪認得王涯印,信是流傳舊本真。”時至元庚辰,括人鄭桂高書。

15. Zeng Lu 曾魯 (1319–1372), 5 columns in standard script, undated; 3 seals:

韓幹畫馬誇第一,
曾貌開元照夜白。
至寶流傳七百年,
賈家舊物□家得。
君看此馬不受羈,
夭矯勢欲凌風飛。
會當蹴踏曾冰去,
豐草長林從所之。
南豐曾魯 [印]: 屬辭齋、羣玉外史、曾氏得之

16. Lin Tangchen 林唐臣 (late 14th–early 15th c.), 11 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 3 seals:

吾聞 《照夜馬圖》 出曹霸,
弟子韓幹亦曾畫。
金羈怒掣欲飛舞,
龍池霹靂驚變化。
想當開元無事時,
飽秣長鳴思遠馳。
未論萬騎入劍閣,
要與八駿遊瑤池。
沉香亭前秉燭夕,
匹練春雪光相射。
畫工如山貌不得,
幹也天機有真迹。
世運七易年七百,
片紙蕭瑟留粉墨。
囗君慎勿輕示客,
俗眼多應按圖索,
千金駿骨無人識。
博陵林唐臣 [印]: 博陵生、梅雪齋、林唐臣元愷氏圖書印

17. Xu Zunsheng 徐尊生 (active mid-14th c.), 8 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

天閑神驥匹練光,
繫著柳上難騰驤。
揚騣仰首意鬱懣,
險不迸斷青絲韁。
君不見沙苑春深草肥潔,
羣浴滄波袞晴雪。
纎毫渾未惹塵泥,
頃刻何曾受羈紲。
韓生筆到天機精,
能通馬語知馬情。
不如縱靶任本性,
老去甘與駑駘并。
嚴陵徐尊生 [印]: 尊生、徐大年

18. Zhang Shimeng 章師孟 (dates unknown), 4 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:

開元有良馬,而無濟於天寶之囏。紹興觀良馬圖,而無援於靖康之變。丹青顧存,文物復安在哉!吾於是而重感。前進士章師孟 [印]: 自家意思

19. Shen Deqian 沈德潛 (1673–1769), 13 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

曹將軍貌照夜白,龍池十日飛霹靂。
弟子韓幹亦有圖,筆力幾與師相敵。
籋雲迣鳥氣無前,那肯低頭就羈靮?
肉中有骨藏丰稜,想像長鳴勢騰擲。
杜陵游戲作貶語,蘇子披圖重推激。
天閑萬匹皆臣師,氣敓陳閎欲陵轢。
此卷流傳已千載,歸之内府珍尺璧。
天家十駿有圖畫,月窟西來過重驛。
超驤俱是千里足,豈數當年好頭赤。
方今未逢韓幹手,誰為神龍狀英特。
良工良驥兩相須,展卷齎咨三太息。
臣沈德潛敬題。 [印]: 一朵紅雲、臣德潛印

20. Ding Zhenduo 丁振鐸 (1842–1914) and Lu Runxiang 陸潤庠 (1841–1915), 1 column in standard script, dated 1910; 2 seals:
宣統庚戌立冬日丁振鐸、陸潤庠同敬觀。 [印]: 巡卿、鳳石

Label strip

Pu Ru 溥儒 (Pu Xinyu 溥心畬, 1896–1963), 2 columns in standard and semi-cursive scripts, undated (mounted on brocade cover):

唐韓幹 《照夜白》 真蹟神品,庚申十八日心畬居士題。

Collectors' seals

Li Junxi 李君錫 (active early 11th c.)
Li Junxi yin 李君錫印

Liu Cen 劉岑 (1087–1167) (?)
Shushan ?? 杼山囗囗
Yong bao yong zhi 永保用之

Jia Sidao 賈似道 (1213–1275)
Qiuhe zhenwan 秋壑珍玩
Sidao 似道

Chu Weishan 楚惟善 (active early 14th c.)
Chu shi Baochen 楚氏寳臣
Weishan 惟善

Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590)
Xiang Molin fu miji zhi yin (twice) 項墨林父袐笈之印
Zijing fu yin (4 times) 子京父印
Molin zi (twice) 墨林子
Molin sheng (twice) 墨林生
Tui mi 退密
Molin 墨林

Geng Zhaozhong 耿昭忠 (1640–1686)
Xingong jianding zhencang 信公鑑定珍藏
Geng Zhaozhong Xingong shi yizi Zailiang biehao Changbaishan Zhang shoucang shuhua yinji 耿昭忠信公氏一字在良別號長白山長收藏書畫印記
Bangu Xuan (shuhua yin) (half seal) 半古軒(書畫印) [半印]

An Qi 安岐 (1683–after 1742)
An Yizhou jia zhencang 安儀周家珍藏
Yizhou jianshang 儀周鑑賞
Chaoxian ren 朝鮮人
An Qi zhi yin 安岐之印
Xinshang 心賞
Yizhou zhencang 儀周珍藏
Siyuan Tang 思原堂
Lucun 麓村

Gui Lai 歸來 (active mid-17th c.)[2]
Xizhi (6 times) 希之
Gui (4 times) 歸
Gui Lai yin 歸來印

Qing emperor Qianlong 清帝乾隆 (r. 1736–1795)
Neifu shuhua zhi bao (5 times) 内府書畫之寳
Yushang (8 times) 御賞
Jigu youwen zhi xi (5 times) 稽古右文之璽
Chunhua Xuan 淳化軒
Qianlong chenhan 乾隆宸翰
Qianlong chenhan 乾隆宸翰
Xintian Zhuren 信天主人
Shiqu baoji 石渠寶笈
Chunhua Xuan tushu zhenmibao 淳化軒圖書珍袐寳
Shiqu dingjian 石渠定鑑
Baoji chongbian 寶笈重編
Qianlong yulan zhi bao 乾隆御覽之寳
Chengguan 澂觀
Qianlong jianshang 乾隆鑑賞
Sanxi Tang jingjian xi 三希堂精鑑璽
Yi Zisun 宜子孫
Guxi tianzi 古稀天子
Shou 壽
Bazheng maonian zhi bao 八徴耄念之寳
Shu fang run 漱芳潤
Qianlong 乾隆
Ji xia yiqing 幾暇怡情
Bide 比德
Langrun 朗潤
Xiebi liu yun zao 擕筆流雲藻

Yixin, Prince Gong 恭親王奕訢 (1833–1898)
Huang liuzi 皇六子
Gong Qinwang zhang 恭親王章
Zhengyi Shuwu zhencang tushu 正誼書屋珍藏圖書

Zaiying 載瀅 (1861–1909)
Beile Zaiying 貝勒載瀅
Jize Tang zhencang yin 繼澤堂珍藏印

Pu Ru 溥儒 (Pu Xinyu 溥心畬, 1896–1963)
Jiu wangsun 舊王孫
Pu Ru jianding shuhua jiacang yin 溥儒鑑定書畫家藏印
Xinyu zhencang 心畬珍藏
Xinyu 心畬
Xinyu jianding shuhua zengcang yin 心畬鑑定書畫珍藏印
Xishan Bieshu 西山別墅
Xishan Yishi 西山逸士
Xishan Yishi Xinyu jianshang 西山逸士心畬鑑賞
Xingxin Zhai 省心齋
Xingxin Zhai tushu yin 省心齋圖書印

Kawai Senro 河井荃廬 (1871–1945)
Yinchao 蟫巢
Xinye Jushi (twice) 心野居士
Hanjiong Tuo (twice) 憨冏陀

Jin Cheng 金城 (1878–1926)
Gongbo pingsheng zhenshang 鞏伯平生真賞
Wuxing Jin Cheng jianding Song Yuan zhenji zhi yin 吳興金城鑑定宋元真蹟之印
Gongbei 拱北

Li Xuanti 李宣倜 (1888?–1961)
Xuanti shending 宣倜審定
Li Shikan jianshang zhang 李釋戡鑑賞章
Ti 倜
Li Shikan 李釋堪
Li Xuanti yin 李宣倜印
Shikan ceng guan 釋龕曾觀
Shikan xinshang 釋戡心賞
Li Xuanti Shikan fu 李宣倜釋戡父
Wubian hua’an (twice) 無邊華盦San shi 散釋
Ajia Jushi 阿迦居士

Jin Kaifan 金開藩 (1895–1946)
Jin Yinhu cang 金蔭湖藏
Jin Kaifan zhencang shuhua zhi yin 金開藩珍藏書畫之印

Unidentified seals
Tang shi tushu (?) 湯氏圖書 (?)
Henan Wen shi zhi bao 河南文氏之寳
Zhimei 芝眉
? ? jianding (twice) 囗囗鑑定

Illegible: 2 (black)

[1] The 30th-generation "Celestial Master" of the Zhengyi sect of Daoism was named Zhang Jixian (1092–1126) with the same Chinese characters. But he may not be the writer of this colophon because it appears after the one by Jie Hong (1304-1373) and, therefore, should post-date it.
[2] On Gui Xizhi’s identity, see Wu Guohao, “Wan Ming wenren de shufa shenghuo” (Ph.D. dissertation, Zhongguo Wenhua Daxue, Taipei, 2008), p. 265.
Sir Percival David , London (early 1930s–d.1964) ; his widow Lady David , later Mrs. Sheila Riddell, London (1964–1977; sold to MMA)
Zhang Yanyuan 張彥遠 (9th century). Lidai minghua ji 歷代名畫記 (Records of Famous Paintings in Successive Periods). Preface dated 847. Juan 9. Reprinted in Lu Fusheng 盧輔聖, ed. Zhongguo shuhua quanshu 中國書畫全書 (Compendium of Classical Publications on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy). Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 155.

Mi Fu 米芾 (born 1051). Hua shi 畫史 (History of Painting). ca. 1100. Reprinted in Lu Fusheng 盧輔聖 ed. Zhongguo shuhua quanshu 中國書畫全書(Compendium of Classical Publications on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy). Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 986.

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An Qi 安岐 (born ca. 1683). Moyuan huiguan 墨緣彚觀 (Notes on Calligraphy and Painting I Chanced to See). Preface dated 1742, second series of the painting section. Reprinted in Lu Fusheng 盧輔聖, ed. Zhongguo shuhua quanshu 中國書畫全書 (Compendium of Classical Publications on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy). Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1994, vol. 10, p. 414.

Gu Fu 顧復 (act. 1692). Pingsheng zhuangguan 平生壯觀 (The Great Sights of My Life). Preface dated 1692, juan 6 of painting section. Reprinted in Lu Fusheng 盧輔聖, ed. Zhongguo shuhua quanshu 中國書畫全書 (Compendium of Classical Publications on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy). Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1994, vol. 4, pp. 954-5.

Wu Sheng 吳升 (17th-18th century). Daguan lu 大觀錄 (Great Vista of Colophons). Preface dated 1712, juan 11. Reprinted in Lu Fusheng 盧輔聖, ed. Zhongguo shuhua quanshu 中國書畫全書 (Compendium of Classical Publications on Chinese Painting and Calligraphy). Shanghai: Shanghai shuhua chubanshe, 1994, vol. 8, p. 384-6.

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