Fish and Water Weeds

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Artist: Formerly attributed to Zhu Zhanji, Emperor Xuande (1399-1435, reigned 1426-1435)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 25.5 x 104.2 cm (10 1/16 x 41 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 13: Looking Out, Looking In: Art in Late Imperial China


China, fish, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), water

To 1911
Li Wenqing (circa 1869-1931), Shanghai to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing in 1911 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 777, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869 - 1931


Playful fish in flora-filled water became a popular subject for Chinese painters when the cultivation of rare fish came into vogue in twelfth century. In this "painting of life subject" (xiesheng), the artist creates an underwater translucency with his skillful handling of ink wash and pale colors, depicting minnows, catfish, shrimp, and carps swimming among plants. The sense of spontaneity and freedom of movement reflect the artist's keen observation of aquatic life.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. p. 259.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum