Spring Festival on the River

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Artist: Traditionally attributed to Qiu Ying 仇英 (ca. 1494-1552)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 18th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 33.8 x 794.8 cm (13 5/16 x 312 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


blue-and-green style, China, festival, landscape, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), river, spring, water

To 1915
Edmund Backhouse (1873-1944), Peking, to 1915 [1]

From 1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Edmund Backhouse through T.J. Larkin, London, in 1915 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record. See also, Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 934, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] 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.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Edmund Backhouse (C.L. Freer source) 1873-1944


This long handscroll is a copy of a famous work attributed to the Song dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan (active early 12th century), which shows the imperial capital Bianliang (modern Kaifeng, Henan Province) during the annual spring festival. Many copies of Zhang's painting are attributed to Qiu Ying, including this scroll, which bears his forged signature. These later copies often contain scenes that are absent from Zhang's original composition, such as the section shown here, which depicts the palaces on Golden Shining Pond, an imperial park located just outside the western city wall.

The emperors of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) used the pond both for naval exercises and festive regattas, especially on the occasion of the spring festival. Such an event is pictured here. A group of palace women punt their phoenix-headed craft under a rainbow bridge surmounted by a small kiosk, while a line of four other boats rowed by eunuchs proceeds in the opposite direction, urged on by flag-waving figures standing atop their dragon-headed prows. The pavilions are populated by beautifully attired palace ladies and their attendants engaged in various leisure activities.

Published References
  • Scientific Studies of Pigments in Chinese Paintings. Washington, DC. p. 47, fig. 3.7.
  • Roderick Whitfield. Chang Tse-tuan's Ch'ing-ming shang-ho-t'u. Ann Arbor. pp. 89, 206.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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