Wine flask (you) with handle and cover

Historical period(s)
Shang dynasty, ca. 1300-1028 BCE
H x W x D: 31.5 × 14 × 14 cm (12 3/8 × 5 1/2 × 5 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: you

casting, China, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), snake, wine, WWII-era provenance

From 1941 to 1942
C. T. Loo & Co., New York from April 1941 [1]

From 1942 to 1951
Eduard von der Heydt (1882-1964), Ascona, Switzerland, purchased from C. T. Loo on September 3, 1942 and lent to the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York [2]

US Government vested Eduard von der Heydt's property under the provisions of "Trading with the Enemy Act" by vesting order, dated August 21, 1951 [3]

From 1964 to 1973
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, from March 1964 [4]

From 1973
Freer Gallery of Art, transferred from National Museum of Natural History in 1973 [5]


[1] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 87129: "Bronze jar with cover and handle Chou Ht 12 1/2 ins / Bronze vessel. Yu with cover. Decorated around foot and neck by bands of spiral motives. Cover surmounted by a knob. Handle terminated by snake's heads and ornated by lozenges and triangles. Rough green patina with red [rust?] splashes. Shang," C. T. Loo & Frank Caro Archive, Musée Guimet, Paris, copy in object file. According to information on the stockcard, the object was inventoried in April 1941. In November that year, Loo exhibited the bronze at his gallery in New York, see Exhibition of Chinese Arts, exh. cat. (New York: C. T. Loo & Co., November 1, 1941-April 30, 1942), cat. 35 (ill.).

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard cited in note 1. According to information on the stockcard, the object was sent to Buffalo Museum of Science on August 31, 1942. See also "Catalogue of the Von der Heydt Loan to the Buffalo Museum of Science: Loan Material from Baron Von der Heydt, as of March 1949," where the object is documented under an inventory card no. 42133, copy in object file. According to the inventory card, the object was purchased on September 8, 1943.

[3] See Vesting Order No. 18344, August 21, 1951, Office of Alien Property, Department of Justice. Eduard von der Heydt exhausted all the legal remedies against the forfeiture of his property provided to him by the Trading with the Enemy Act.

[4] Attorney General, Robert Kennedy authorized transfer of the von der Heydt collection from Buffalo Museum of Science to the custody of the Smithsonian Institution in March 1964. The collection was transferred to the National Museum of Natural History. In 1966 US Congress legislated transferring the title of the von der Heydt collection to the Smithsonian Institution, see Public Law 89-503, 80 Stat. 287, July 18, 1966. The object was accessioned under no. 448077, see "Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Accession Data," copy in object file.

[5] The object was among 13 objects in the von der Heydt collection transferred from National Museum of Natural History to the Freer Gallery of Art, see "Smithsonian Institution Intramural Transfer of Specimens" memorandum, dated January 29, 1973, copy in object file. It was accessioned to the permanent collection in 1974.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution
Baron Eduard von der Heydt 1882-1964
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948

Published References
  • William Watson. The Art of Dynastic China. New York, 1981. cat. 20.
  • An Exhibition of Chinese Art. Exh. cat. New York, November 1, 1941-April 20, 1942. cat. 35.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 7, p. 16.
  • Art of Asia Acquired by North American Museums, 1974-1975
    . vol. 29 New York and Honolulu, HI, 1975 - 1976. p. 118, fig. 59.
  • Art of Asia Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 29 New York and Honolulu, 1975-1976. p. 118, fig. 59.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.