Life on the River

View right to left

Artist: Formerly attributed to Ma Yuan 馬遠 (active late 12th-early 13th century)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W: 18.6 x 173.9 cm (7 5/16 x 68 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


boat, China, fishing, flute, landscape, music, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), river, water buffalo

To 1909
Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, in 1909 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 698, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), Loon Gu Sai was possibly Lunguzhai, a store in the antiques district of Liulichang.

This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Loon Gu Sai (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


This handscroll presents a virtual anthology of the typical images and stock characters found on a Chinese river. At right, a woman and young lad pole along the gentle current behind a scholar-fisherman and his serving boy who are angling in midriver. On the far bank, a herdboy rides a water buffalo followed by a calf, and a wood gatherer rests by the stream as a woman appears around the hill carrying another load. At left, four small boats filled with fishermen and young boys have drawn together to take refreshment while one of them plays a bamboo flute. From the left, another scholar-fisherman approaches in his boat. Reeds and drying fishing nets line the foreground, where an open, thatch-roofed pavilion occupies a small promontory. The air is clear and fresh and vegetation lush and full, and everyone seems healthy and content.

Near center, beneath the trunk of a large, green-leafed tree, the spurious signature of the Southern Song dynasty painter Ma Yuan (late 12th-early 13th century) appears.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum