Fisher folk moored under trees

Artist: Formerly attributed to Liu Songnian (傳)劉松年 (ca. 1150-after 1225)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 101.9 x 47.6 cm (40 1/8 x 18 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

boat, China, eating, family, fishing, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), woman

To 1917
Li Wenqing (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1917 [1]

From 1917 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing, in New York, in 1917 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1158, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, Voucher No. 18, December 1916.

[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
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869-1931


While scenes of everyday family life are rare in Chinese painting, the families of ordinary fishermen are frequently shown both at work and leisure. Generally depicted leading a healthy, carefree existence with the bounty of nature at their feet, fishing families came to symbolize the welfare enjoyed by society under the aegis of an enlightened ruler. Starting in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), such depictions became a subgenre of their own, known as "the joys of fishermen." In this typical example, several families moor closely together by a riverbank behind a screen of drying nets. With the day's work done, the men are drinking and relaxing. One man conceals something behind his back, as the fellow opposite stretches out his hand, wishing to see it. Three of the women attend young children, while a fourth washes a cup over the side of a boat. Nearby, two older children take fish from a large bamboo basket and drop them into a pot.

The five paintings seen here illustrating activities on the rivers of China were created by and for members of the educated elite. From their perspective, the common fisherman, surrounded by and working in harmony with his family and friends, led an enviably simple existence untroubled by outside issues and events. Accordingly, fishermen frequently appear in settings that emphasize the cooperative and communal nature of their livelihood.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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