Stealing an Urn of Wine

Artist: Qi Baishi 齊白石 (1864-1957)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, ca. 1930
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 35.9 x 25.8 cm (14 1/8 x 10 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Bequest from the collection of Wang Fangyu and Sum Wai, donated in their memory by Mr. Shao F. Wang.
Shao F. Wang collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, drinking, Modern period (1912 - present), Shao F. Wang collection, WWII-era provenance

To 1997
Wang Fangyu (1913-1997) and Sum Wai (1918-1996), to 1997 [1]

To 1998
Shao F. Wang, New York and Short Hills, NJ, by descent, to 1998 [2]

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Shao F. Wang in 1998


[1] According to Curatorial Note 5, Joseph Chang, May 7, 1998, and Joseph Chang, August 18, 1998, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Shao F. Wang
Wang Fangyu 1913-1997
Sum Wai 1918 - 1996


Stealing an Urn of Wine was a favorite subject of the modern master Qi Baishi, for he painted similar compositions time and again. He apparently was fond of the comical story of Bi Zhuo, an official of the Ministry of Personnel during the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420) who often drank excessively. Once, Bi was so drunk that he stumbled into a neighbor’s house and continued to drink from an urn of wine. Inebriated, he fell asleep next to it. The neighbor returned to discover his servants had tied up the esteemed official as a common thief. After being released, Bi invited his neighbor to have a drink by the urn--and then he stumbled away.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 262-263.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
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