In the Chinese zodiac system, certain animals have long been associated with particular years in the twelve-year cycle. At least as far back as the third century B.C., people believed that the attributes of these animals could be seen in those born in each year, defining one’s character and having an affect on one’s future. These beliefs continue to be strong today throughout Asia. The horse is associated with strength, energy, intelligence, communication, and popularity, but also impatience and stubbornness.
This exhibition showcases some of the more common portrayals of horses in Japanese and Chinese art from the 6th to the 18th centuries in which these attributes can be seen. Essential in battle, and therefore integral to securing and maintaining power, the horse was often represented in sculpture in China. Fine breeds featured as minqi or funerary objects, representations of prized possessions meant to accompany the deceased into the afterlife and offer protection. Horses were also immortalized in precious jade, testifying to the affection and respect that people had for them.
In Japan, the horse became one of the most important features of warrior culture. From an early age, boys were taught to ride for contests and ceremonies. Images of spirited horses in stables, painted one per panel, were one of the earliest subjects depicted on multi-panel folding screens. Horses have always had an important place in indigenous Shintô religious beliefs, and by the 15th century, the commissioning and donating of votive paintings to shrines featuring horses (ema) pulling at their tethers became a widespread practice among the warrior class.
Isoda Koryusai. Young samurai on horseback, about 1769/1770. Clarence Buckingham Collection.
1 day 4 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago TOMORROW at 4:00—See the world premiere of “The Electric Stage” by performance collective Manual Cinema.
Manual Cinema uses vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live camera feeds, sound design, and a live music ensemble to create immersive visual stories on stage and screen.
1 day 7 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago A Sunday on La Grande Jatte has been among the museum’s most beloved paintings since it first entered the collection in 1926. ARTicle celebrates the birthday of Georges Seurat, with some fun facts about this pointillist masterpiece.
2 days 5 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago #TBT Ladies strike a pose in Blackstone Hall, 1909.
Demolished in 1958, the enormous two-story gallery once spanned the area between where the Asian art and Prints and Drawings galleries are today and housed over 150 plaster cast sculptures, many replicas of Greek and Roman art received as gifts from the French government.