Old tree and horses (古木散馬圖), by Zhao Mengfu, China, Yuan dynasty, 1300
Ink on paper, height 29.9 cm, width 71.6 cm
National Palace Museum, Taibei, Taiwan

A Riding Official (人騎圖)
Ink and color on silk, height 30 cm, width 62 cm
The Palace Museum, Beijing, China

Feeding a Horse (飲馬圖)

Tale of the Goddess of Luo River (洛神赋), 13th century
Ink on paper, height 29 cm, width 220.9 cm
The Palace Museum, Beijing, China

Zhao Menfu (1254-1322), Chinese painter and calligrapher, was a descendent of a Song (960-1279) imperial family. Zhao, who was gifted with a very retentive memory, took office as the Sihucanjun of Zhenzhou when he was only 14 years old. When he was 23 the Mongols overran Hangzhou and established the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), moving the capital to Dadu (modern Beijing). Zhao returned to his home town, Wuxing, to concentrate on his studies and soon achieved distinction as a scholar. In 1286, in response to the invitation sent by the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan to recruit southern scholars to serve in his regime, Zhao went to Beijing to begin his career as a civil servant under the Yuan dynasty, sometimes at the court and sometimes in the provinces, eventually attaining the first rank and serving under five emperors. Zhao was an honest and upright official who always spoke directly and never cringed, even though he once was an official of the Song Dynasty. A well-learned scholar, Zhao's calligraphy works, paintings, poems and prose were also of a high artistic level. The emperor of the Yuan once compared him with Li Bai of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

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