Twelve-panel screen depicting “Spring Morning in the Han Palace” with inscription; encomium on the reverse

Artist: Sheng Nian 盛年 painted the template followed by lacquer specialists (active 17th century)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Kangxi reign, rendi year, mid-summer (zhong xia) June 1672
Black lacquer on prepared wooden core; carved recesses filled with polychrome pigments and gold (kuancai)
H x W x D: 216.5 x 50.1 x 606.5 cm (85 1/4 x 19 3/4 x 238 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Screen (twelve-panel)

architecture, boat, China, dance, deer, flower viewing, fungus-of-immortality, inscription, Kangxi reign (1662 - 1722), mirror, musician, qin, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)

Kong Yiweng 孔翊翁 [1]

Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), method of acquisition unknown [2]

Sale, New York, American Art Association, "Arms and armor of old Japan" February 8-10, 1906, lot 30 [3]

Charles Lang Freer, purchased at American Art Association sale [4]

Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer [5]


[1] According to the inscriptions on the screen, the work was made for Kong Yiweng 孔翊翁, a sobriquet for a man identified as Kong Zhenlai 孔貞來. He was a descendent of Confucius and served in the Qing dynasty as a government official with service in both military and civil posts. Yunan was one of many provinces in which he served. Huang Jingji, a fellow townsman and admirer of Kong Yiweng, wrote the encomium on the reverse of the screen. It is plausible that Huang Jingji was involved in the commission to create the screen to present as a gift to Kong, likely for an advanced-age birthday. It is unclear if the screen was made as a gift from only Huang, or more likely from several unnamed people

[2] A former Buddhist monk, Matsuki Bunkio (1867-1940) moved to the United States in 1888 and settled near Boston and restyled himself as Bunkio Matsuki. He became a dealer in Japanese antiquities, opening a gallery along Boston's fashionable Boylston Street. See note 1.

[3] See American Art Association, "Arms and Armor of Old Japan" [auction catalogue] (New York, February 8-10, 1906), lot 304. The object is described as "A superb work of art, incomparable in its importance. It was executed in 1672 (11th year of Kang- Hi) [sic; should be Kang-hsi] as a gift to the imperial Prince Yoku-wo-ko [sic; in Chinese Kong Yiweng, and he was not a prince], from his friends and admirers on his return to the capital from the governorship of the Province of Un-nan [Yunan]."

[4] See voucher No. 12, where the object is described as "One Chinese Palace Screen, 12 fold, No. 304 of Matsuki Catalogue of 1906," from Box 114, Folder 2, Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, copy in object file.

[5] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Research completed on August 11, 2022.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Kong Yiweng Kong Yiweng 孔翊翁
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940

Published References
  • Lacquer: An International History and Illustrated Survey. New York. title p., p. 61.
  • W.G. de Kesel, G. Dhont. Coromandel Lacquer Screens. Ghent. pp. 49-49, ill. 31.
  • David Ren. Chinese Lacquered Furniture. China. pp. 302-303.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
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