Chen Rentao (1906-1968), Hong Kong, and Frank Caro, C. T. Loo & Co., New York, to 1960 
From 1960 to 1979
Department of Treasury, U. S. Customs Service 
Freer Gallery of Art, from October 23, 1979 
 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).
 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.
 The object was transferred to the Freer Gallery of Art on October 23, 1979.
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
U.S. Customs Service
Frank Caro 1904-1980
Chen Rentao 1906-1968
The narcissus, the orchid, the crane, and the pine in these album leaves are among the most common symbols in Chinese art. The narcissus, which represents "water fairy" (shuixian), is a symbol of good fortune for the next year if it blooms exactly on New Year's Day. Orchids, prized for their subtle scent, signify love and beauty. When they appear as one of the "Four Gentlemen" their combined elegance and splendor represent the purity of character in humanity. Presented as a pair, the crane and pine tree are widely known as symbols of longevity and prosperity.
Luo Ping, the artist, executed these paintings using his fingers and fingernails, although the inscriptions were done with a brush. The finger-painting technique-which originated in the latter half of the eighth century-was popular among a few eccentric artists in the eighteenth century.
- Published References
- Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art. Washington. .
- Collection Area(s)
- Chinese Art
- Web Resources
- Google Cultural Institute
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