Since 200 BC, as the increase of national power and extension of territory towards west, Qin and Han Empire began to take shape. From the Terracotta Warriors to Horse Stepping on Flying Swallow, the art of horses shifted its concern from the primitive, bold and local horses to the vigorous and majestic horses from West Asia. Due to the powerful and majestic country, the expression style of horses art in Han began to change from realism to diversified and unconstrained symbolism, containing “great beauty”.
As a powerful nation and world center since the 10th century, Tang and Song Dynasties in culture, economy and military reached periods of great prosperity. Both of Dynasties had wholesome and complete horse administrations and the top-rated equestrian sports across the court and the commonalty. Extant artworks including sculptures and paintings reveal past prosperity, mightiness and magnificent that hundreds countries’ worship brought about. Tang three-color glaze horses were known to all the world. At that time, Han Gan and Li Gonglin were great masters in drawing horses. They were insistent on drawing for real and strong horses in the palace, so the painting figures were lusty, valiant and vivid in accurate proportion. They carried on traditional skills as well as created new ones, which made the skills in Chinese horses drawing art more mature.
Zhao Mengfu is the most famous painter and calligrapher in Yuan Dynasty. He initiates China’s new painting style and has an overwhelming effect on Chinese culture. The emperor in Yuan Dynasty appreciated his works, so he was awarded to work in government many times. His paintings of horses are compact, powerful, diversified and realistic, succeeded to the tradition of Tang and Song Dynasties, aspiring gorgeous color. He successfully integrates horse’s paintings with landscapes. In his paintings, he not only exhibits horses’ appearance and behavior but also its’ hearts and minds. In the harmonic natural scenes, Zhao Mengfu gave vent to his feelings in the process of art, which took Chinese paintings of horses to a new level.
XuBeihong, a great artist and act educator in Modern China, on the base of in-depth study of traditional Chinese and western arts, makes a tremendous contribution to the development of modern art and art education. His oil paintings, Chinese ink drawings and sketches are exemplified the modern Chinese art painting. When the country and nation were in peril, he used arts to express patriotic sentiments. XuBeihong is expert in drawing horses, creating a way of drawing horses by making use of Chinese ink. His printings have smooth powerful lines and the shaped horses are lifelike with a great momentum. The running horses in the paintings have strong bodies with elegant and obstinate postures, which appear being full of strength. The militancy and romance feelings in the horses shock people’s souls and show artistic appeal.