Sheep and Goat

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Artist: Zhao Mengfu 趙孟頫 (1254-1322)
Historical period(s)
Yuan dynasty, ca. 1300
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 25.2 x 48.7 cm (9 15/16 x 19 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, goat, sheep, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)

Fukushima Company, New York 1931 [1]

From 1931
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Fukushima Company, New York in 1931 [2]


[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note.

[2] See note 1. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Fukushima Company


Zhao Mengfu was the preeminent painter and calligrapher of the early Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), and one of the most versatile and subtle artists in the Chinese tradition. Balanced in mood and posture, the two animals turn their heads back toward each other to create an open but unified composition. In his inscription at the left of the painting, Zhao Mengfu states his motivation for creating this work:  "I have painted horses before, but have never painted sheep [or goats]. So when Zhongxin requested a painting, I playfully drew these for him from life. Though I cannot get close to the ancient masters, I have managed somewhat to capture their essential spirit."

The seals of several Ming and Qing dynasty collectors, especially those of the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1735-95), who once owned the scroll, are applied over much of the remaining paper.  Borrowing vocabulary from an ancient poem about sheep, the emperor also provided the title frontispiece at right, which reads:  "Divine likeness [of sheep] in motion and repose."

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
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  • Nakata Yujiro, Fu Shen. O-bei shuzo Chugoku hosho meiseki shu [Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in American and European Collections]. 6 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1983. vol. 3: pls. 33-34.
  • Shane McCausland. Zhao Mengfu: Calligraphy and Painting for Khubilai's China. Hong Kong. Cover and p. 145, fig. 1.25.
  • Victor H. Mair, Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, Paul R. Goldin. Hawaii Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture. Honolulu. fig. 93.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1 (1982 ed.): p. 211.
  • Osvald Siren. A History of Early Chinese Painting. 2 vols., London. vol. 2, pl. 104.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 6: pl. 19.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. vol. 2: p. 421, fig. 397.
  • Laurence Sickman, Alexander Coburn Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. The Pelican History of Art London and Baltimore. pl. 112a.
  • Benjamin Rowland. Art in East and West: An Introduction Through Comparison. Cambridge, Massachusetts. fig. 52.
  • Great Drawings of All Time. 4 vols., New York. vol. 4: pl. 894.
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  • Chu-tsing Li. The Freer Sheep and Goat and Chao Meng-Fu's Horse Paintings., reprint of Artibus Asiae, vol. 30. Ascona, Switzerland. .
  • Kinjiro Harada. The Pageant of Chinese Painting. Tokyo. pl. 259.
  • Hai wai i chen [Chinese Art in Overseas Collections]. Taipei, 1985. vol. 1, no. 79.
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  • William Cohn. Chinese Painting. London and New York. pl. 136.
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  • Chang Yuan-chien. Jen ch'i t'u and the Horse and Figure Painting of Chao Meng-fu. vol. 17, nos.3-4 Taipei, July/October 1982. pl. 4.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 47, vol. 1: pp. 160-1.
  • Lin-ts'an Li. An Estimate of the Ch'ien-lung Emperor's Inscriptions on Chinese Painting. Taipei, Summer 1972. pp. 11-12, pl. 4.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 15.
  • Martha Davidson. Five Oriental Exhibitions. vol. 11, no. 5 New York, May 1939. pp. 29-32.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 50.
  • China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795. Exh. cat. London. p. 51.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 76-77.
  • T. C. Lai. Animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Hong Kong, 1979-1982. p. 94.
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  • unknown title. no. 10, January 1931. p. 150.
  • Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. vol. 32, no. 2, . p. 206, fig. 27.3.
  • Jacques Dars. Au gre d'humeurs oisives: Les Carnets Secrets de Li Yu, Un Art du Bonheur en Chine. Arles. p. 213.
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  • Rene Grousset. Chinese Art and Culture. New York. p. 248.
  • Curtis Hansman Brizendine. Cloudy Mountains: Kao K'o-kung (1248-1310) and the Mi Tradition. Ann Arbor. p. 392, pl. 46.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 403, fig. 533.
  • The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China. Cambridge and New York. p. 427.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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