Landscape for Qiu Yuanwu

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Artist: Cheng Sui (1607-1692) Fang Hengxian (1620-1679) Zhang Xun (mid-17th century)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1668
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 21 x 283.2 cm (8 1/4 x 111 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, landscape, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance

To 1960
Chen Rentao (1906-1968), Hong Kong, and Frank Caro, C. T. Loo & Co., New York, to 1960 [1]

From 1960 to 1979
U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury [2]

From 1979
Freer Gallery of Art, from October 23, 1979 [3]

[1] This object is one of a group of 88 objects (F80.104-F80.180, FSC-S-22-25 and FSC-O-11a-h) seized in 1960 by the U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, from the dealer and collector Chen Rentao, Hong Kong and Frank Caro of C. T. Loo & Co., New York. The objects were deemed to have been introduced into the commerce of the United States in violation of 19 U.S.C. 1592 (Trade with Communist China).

[2] See note 1. The object’s ownership title is based on the settlement agreement, dated November 1971, between the United States, Chen Tung Siang Wen, the executrix for Chen Rentao Estate, and Frank Caro, copy in object file. See U.S. Customs Service Memorandum, April 23, 1979 and a letter from Thadeus Rojek, Chief Counsel, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Custom Service, to Marie C. Malaro, Assistant General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution, dated November 29, 1979, copy in object file. The objects remained in the custody of the U.S. Customs Service office in New York until 1979.

[3] The object was transferred to the Freer Gallery of Art on October 23, 1979.

Previous Owner(s)

U.S. Customs Service
Frank Caro 1904-1980
Chen Rentao 1906-1968


Inspired by an earlier landscape created jointly by two masters of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), this handscroll was painted in 1668 at the request of the scholar-official Qiu Yuanwu, who was passing by boat through the city of Yangzhou. The three friends who jointly executed the work for him were the eminent landscape painters Cheng Sui, Zhang Xun, and Fang Hengxian, who often traveled together and were then residing in the city. The scroll shows a long stretch of river scenery depicted in the ultra-dry, linear style of brushwork that is particularly associated with seventeenth-century artists of the Anhui School. Although each of the three painters had developed his own distinct style of painting, they achieved a rare harmony of purpose and execution in their collaboration on this riverscape. In part of his colophon at the end of the painting, Zhang Xun explained the relative contributions of each artist to the final work:

"Thus we three united our minds and hands and made them one. Of the houses and hamlets, Censor Fang did eight-tenths and Master Cheng did two-sixths. Of the boats and human figures, the Master and I each did half. Of the landforms and vegetation, I did seven-tenths, the Master did two-sevenths, and the Censor did one-fifteenth. As for which of us three did which hill, which tree, which house, which boat, or which human figure, only those who truly know us well can distinguish them one by one without being told."

Translation by Stephen Allee

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