Ritual food vessel (gui)

Historical period(s)
Western Zhou dynasty, 11th-10th century BCE
H x W x D (vessel): 17.1 × 33.1 × 23.7 cm (6 3/4 × 13 1/16 × 9 5/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: gui

bird, casting, China, dragon, food, monster, ram, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE), WWII-era provenance

Possibly the Qing dynasty imperial collection [1]

To 1915
Marcel Bing (1875-1920), Paris, France [2]

1915 to 1959
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), Washington, DC and Mt. Kisco, NY, purchased from Marcel Bing through C. T. Loo, Lai Yuan & Co., New York in December 1915 [3]

1959 to 1961
Agnes E. Meyer inherited upon the death of her husband, Eugene Meyer on July 17, 1959 [4]

From 1961
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer, 1961 [5]

[1] A bronze qui with a very similar decoration and inscription has been included in the catalogue Xi Qing xujian, jiabian, one of the four imperial catalogues compiled during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, in years 1781/82-1793/94, see Xi Qing xujian, jiabian (Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1911), vol. 6, p. 41a-b. See also Rong Geng, "Xi Qing jinwen zhenwei cunyi biao," Yanjing xuebao 5 (June 1929), p. 838. This bronze was possibly among the treasures taken from the Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace) by French and English troops in 1860 or from the palace in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

[2] Bing's ownership is documented in several locations. See, for example: November 11, 1915 letter from Marcel Bing to Charles Lang Freer; letters from December 10 and 15 from Eugene Meyer to Charles Lang Freer; telegrams exchanged between Marcel Bing, Charles Lang Freer, and Eugene Meyer dating from November 15 to December 5, 1915 and February 2, 1916 letter from Charles Lang Freer to Marcel Bing. Copies of aforementioned documents in object file.

[3] Eugene Meyer, Agnes E. Meyer, and Charles Lang Freer negotiated with Marcel Bing to arrange a joint purchase of Bing's collection of 11 Chinese bronzes and 1 jade. See correspondence cited in note 2. The Meyers and Freer decided to divide the collection - Meyers acquiring 5 bronzes (including this object) and Freer acquiring 6 bronzes in addition to the jade -- and the price, calculating each party's payment was based on the appraisal values assigned to each piece. The Meyers ultimately sent the entire payment to C. T. Loo, Lai Yuan & Company (sometimes spelled Lai-Yuan), who in turn wired money to Bing. Lai Yuan & Company received a consigners fee from Bing. Meyers made the payment in early December 1915, with Freer paying the Meyers for the objects destined for his collection on December 14, 1915. All the objects included in this large sale, which were originally divided between the Meyers and Freer, are now in the museum's collection ( F1915.102; F1915.03a-b; F1915.104; F1915.105; F1915.106a-f; F1915.107; F1915.108; F1961.30a-b; F1961.32a-b; F1968.28; F1968.29). For a full explanation of the joint endeavor between the Meyers and Freer, see: Dorota Chudzicka, "'In Love at First Sight Completely, Hopelessly, and Forever with Chinese Art': The Eugene and Agnes Meyer Collection of Chinese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art" in Collections Vol. 10, No. 3 (Summer 2004), 334-335.

Shortly after the acquisition, the Meyers lent this bronze to an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, see S. C. Bosch Reitz, Catalogue of an Exhibition of Early Chinese Pottery and Sculpture, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916), image 336.

[4] Eugene Meyer died in Washington D.C. on July 17, 1959. Upon his death, his wife, Agnes E. Meyer inherited the entirety of the couple's collection.

[5] See Agnes E. Meyer's Deed of Gift, dated December 21, 1961, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Marcel Bing 1875-1920
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)
C.T. Loo 1880-1957
Lai-Yuan 1908-ca. 1915

Published References
  • Sigisbert Chrétien Bosch Reitz. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Early Chinese Pottery and Sculpture. Exh. cat. New York. no. 336.
  • Dorota Chudzicka. In Love at First Sight Completely, Hopelessly, and Forever with Chinese Art: The Eugene and Agnes Meyer Collection of Chinese Art at the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 10, no. 3, Summer 2004. pp. 334-335.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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