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Tribute bearers
Historical Period: Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)
Object Name: Handscroll
Materials: Ink and colors on silk
Dimensions: H. 13 3/4 in x W. 87 1/4 in, H. 34.9 cm x W. 221.6 cm (image)
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B60D100
On Display: No

Description

Label:

This horizontal scroll depicts a procession of foreign envoys presenting tribute to the Chinese imperial court. The foreigners are shown in an inventive and amusing assortment of facial colors and non-Chinese garments or armor. They bring with them a statue of a lion, an incense burner, three exotic horses, and other gifts. The picture, which is read from right to left, is based on a formal ceremony actually undertaken at the court for such occasions. The procession of tribute bearers was a favorite theme of the Tang dynasty rulers (618-906), who forged political and economic contacts with many countries. The practice also flourished during the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty (1280-1368). Official histories document the fact that the Yuan emperor Huidi (reigned 1333-1368) was fascinated by a gift of exotic horses presented to him by the Catholic Church of France in 1342. At a banquet to honor those Western missions, Huidi ordered court artists to compose prose and paintings commemorating "the horse tribute." This scroll may be a depiction of that event.

The work is signed by Ren Bowen, who is thought to be the heir of two generations of a family of noted horse and figure painters. This painting, along with three other, similar versions by the Ren family that survive today, serves as a historical record of a diplomatic link between China and the West.


More Information

Marks: Seal and inscription of Ren Bowen (inscription by an early 20th century person)
Exhibition History: "Chinese Treasures from the Avery Brundage Collection", Asia House Gallery (New York) 1/18/1968-3/3/1968, Detroit Institute of Arts 3/26/1968-5/7/1968, The Art Institute of Chicago 6/5/1968-7/7/1968, Honolulu Academy of Arts 8/1/1968-9/15/1968, Seattle Art Museum 10/15/1968-11/24/1968, Portland Art Museum 12/5/1968-12/27/1968, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum 1/15/1969-2/16/1969

"Brundage Collection: The Fascination of Asian Arts", Osaka (4/5/70-5/17/70), Tokyo (5/23/70-6/10/70), Fukuoka (6/20/70-7/5/70), Takaoka (7/12/70-8/2/70)

"Gems of Chinese Art: From the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection", Hong Kong Museum of Art, 5/17/1983-8/7/1983.

"Masterpieces of Oriental Art from the Collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco", Kyoto National Museum (10/17/1995 - 11/26/1995)

"Power and Virtue: Images of Horses in Chinese Art", China House Gallery, New York, 9/13/1997 - 12/13/1997

"Gifts of the Sultan: Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts", LACMA (6/5/2011-9/11/2011), Houston Museum of Fine Arts (10/16/2011 - 1/16/2012), and Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (3/21/2012 - 6/2/2012)

"Roaring Tigers, Leaping Carp: Decoding the Symbolic Language of Chinese Animal Painting", Cincinnati Art Museum (10/9/2009-1/3/2010)
Label:

This horizontal scroll depicts a procession of foreign envoys presenting tribute to the Chinese imperial court. The foreigners are shown in an inventive and amusing assortment of facial colors and non-Chinese garments or armor. They bring with them a statue of a lion, an incense burner, three exotic horses, and other gifts. The picture, which is read from right to left, is based on a formal ceremony actually undertaken at the court for such occasions. The procession of tribute bearers was a favorite theme of the Tang dynasty rulers (618-906), who forged political and economic contacts with many countries. The practice also flourished during the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty (1280-1368). Official histories document the fact that the Yuan emperor Huidi (reigned 1333-1368) was fascinated by a gift of exotic horses presented to him by the Catholic Church of France in 1342. At a banquet to honor those Western missions, Huidi ordered court artists to compose prose and paintings commemorating "the horse tribute." This scroll may be a depiction of that event.

The work is signed by Ren Bowen, who is thought to be the heir of two generations of a family of noted horse and figure painters. This painting, along with three other, similar versions by the Ren family that survive today, serves as a historical record of a diplomatic link between China and the West.


Marks: Seal and inscription of Ren Bowen (inscription by an early 20th century person)
Exhibition History: "Chinese Treasures from the Avery Brundage Collection", Asia House Gallery (New York) 1/18/1968-3/3/1968, Detroit Institute of Arts 3/26/1968-5/7/1968, The Art Institute of Chicago 6/5/1968-7/7/1968, Honolulu Academy of Arts 8/1/1968-9/15/1968, Seattle Art Museum 10/15/1968-11/24/1968, Portland Art Museum 12/5/1968-12/27/1968, M. H. De Young Memorial Museum 1/15/1969-2/16/1969

"Brundage Collection: The Fascination of Asian Arts", Osaka (4/5/70-5/17/70), Tokyo (5/23/70-6/10/70), Fukuoka (6/20/70-7/5/70), Takaoka (7/12/70-8/2/70)

"Gems of Chinese Art: From the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, The Avery Brundage Collection", Hong Kong Museum of Art, 5/17/1983-8/7/1983.

"Masterpieces of Oriental Art from the Collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco", Kyoto National Museum (10/17/1995 - 11/26/1995)

"Power and Virtue: Images of Horses in Chinese Art", China House Gallery, New York, 9/13/1997 - 12/13/1997

"Gifts of the Sultan: Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts", LACMA (6/5/2011-9/11/2011), Houston Museum of Fine Arts (10/16/2011 - 1/16/2012), and Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (3/21/2012 - 6/2/2012)

"Roaring Tigers, Leaping Carp: Decoding the Symbolic Language of Chinese Animal Painting", Cincinnati Art Museum (10/9/2009-1/3/2010)