This is a painted silk screen showing a mongolian mounted archer. I think that the original motif was shown on a 1280 painting, but this is, of course, much later (1900?).

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Outstretched Bow of a Horseriding Marksman

In the past, General Ts'ao was skilled in painting both the bone and flesh of a horse. Now as I peruse the work of Liu Kuan-tao, seeing the spirit of both the man and horse are equally fine makes me lament his skill as a lost art.8

Wu Chong of the Wu Commandery, the year Yichou of Qianlong

  1. is sometimes the variant character of 圖, meaning 'drawing'.
  2. General Ts'ao (曹將軍) refers to Ts'ao Pa (曹霸), a skilled horse painter in the Tang dynasty. This expression alludes to Tu Fu (杜甫)'s poem On Seeing a Horse-painting by Ts’ao Pa in the House of the Recorder Wei Feng (韋諷錄事宅觀曹將軍畫馬圖).
  3. Liu Kuan-tao (劉貫道) was a painter in the early Yuan dynasty. The work this inscription refers to is possibly Kublai Khan Hunting (畫元世祖出獵圖). Specifically, this work bears resemblance to the horse-rider on the left.
  4. Commissioner of the Imperial Wardrobe Bureau (御衣局使) is a title earned by Liu for his portrayal of Emperor Yuzong in 1279. 史 is possibly a phonetic loan character of 使.
  5. The year Yichou of Qianlong (乾隆乙丑) is the tenth year of his reign (or 1745).
  6. Wang Chong (王寵 1494-1533) was a calligrapher in the Ming dynasty. The Wu Commandery (吳郡) was frequently used by Wang to denote his origin, the Wu County of Suzhou (蘇州吳縣). The fundamental contradiction of dynasties between the year and author, together with the fact that Wang was not a painter, makes this painting a possible forgery.
  7. 識 is a phonetic loan character of 記 in 款識, or inscription.
  8. This is also likely to be a saying of self-effacement, especially considering the painting is an imitation of Liu Kuan-tao.
  • Thank you so much for your very insightful comments
    – Ole S
    Feb 25, 2021 at 22:09

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