A review of the research done to date indicates that many of the works Giuseppe Castiglione did in the Yung-cheng reign (1723–1735) were signed in using Sung-script style found in late Ming dynasty (1368–1644) woodblock printing. Therefore, even though this work is undated, the calligraphic style of the signature in the lower left suggests an early work by Castiglione. Although this work employs traditional Chinese pigments, the rendering of the horses, figures, and trees all incorporate the effect of shadows emphasized in Western painting to give them a more volumetric feeling. The subject of a herder below a tree was well known to many Chinese painters, but here Castiglione has transformed it to place more attention on the treatment of the composition, giving the objects a better sense of relative space. In doing so, Castiglione introduced new Western elements into a traditional subject.
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