The Thatched Hut of Dreaming of an Immortal

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Artist: Tang Yin 唐寅 (1470-1524)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, early 16th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 28.3 × 103 cm (11 1/8 × 40 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, Daoism, Daoist Immortals, dreaming, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), sleeping, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

A brilliant youth, Tang Yin achieved first place in the provincial examinations that he hoped would open a career for him as an official, but scandal ruined his chances.  He instead became a professional painter who received commissions from his scholar friends. This handscroll was requested by Tang's contemporary Wang Dongyuan, who followed Daoist practices meant to encourage longevity.  After a prophetic dream in which Wang Dongyuan saw an immortal approaching him, Wang named his garden "Dreaming of an Immortal."  It was common in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) for a garden proprietor to take the name of his garden, or a site within it, as a sobriquet, or secondary name. Thus, the painting is a "double image" that refers to Wang Dongyuan as a sleeping figure and, by extension, through the garden property itself.  Tang Yin creatively captured the meaning of the garden's name by portraying Wang asleep with the dreamy emanation of an immortal floating in the sky.

Published References
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  • Hans Holländer. "Europas chinesische Träume: Die Erfindung Chinas in der europäischen Literatur." Europe's Chinese Dreams: The Invention of China in European Literature. Wolkersdorf, Austria. p. 44-45 and Cover.
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  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 80-81.
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  • Arthur Waley, (Introductory essay). Tao Te Ching: The Way and Its Power and Its Place in Chinese Thought. London. p. 160-161.
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  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. pp. 206-207.
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  • Wendy Frey, Bert Bower, Jim Lobdell. History Alive!: The Ancient World. Palo Alto, CA. p. 211.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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