Portrait of Wang Huan

Sitter: Wang Huan
Historical period(s)
Northern Song dynasty, ca. 1056
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 41.7 x 31.7 cm (16 7/16 x 12 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127), portrait, Song dynasty (960 - 1279)

From at least 1862 to 1868
Di Xuegeng (1820-after 1897) [1]

From 1868 to not later than 1892
Wang, given by Di Xuegeng in 1868 [2]

From at least 1892
Shengyu (1850-1900), purchased from Wang prior to 1892 [3]

To about 1916
Wanyan Jingxian (ca. 1848-50 – ca. 1927-29) [4]

About 1916
Laiyuan Company, Shanghai [5]

From 1916 to 1948
Tonying and Company, New York [6]

From 1948
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company [7]


[1] The painting was a part of an album of five portraits produced around the year 1056 and collectively known as Suiyang wulao tu (Five Elders of Suiyang). Two other portraits from the same set are in the collection of Yale University Art Gallery. The fifth portrait is in the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The wooden covers of the album, the title page and a number of colophons relating to the portraits are also in the Metropolitan Museum. The information included in the colophons in the Metropolitan Museum collection along with those recorded in the catalogue Tiewang shanhu (1600), makes it possible to reconstruct the history of the painting. See Thomas Lawton, Chinese Figure Painting (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1973), p. 164-70 and “Song and Yuan Painting and Calligraphy,” http://www.asia.si.edu/songyuan/F1948.10/F1948-10.Documentation.pdf, accessed on November 20, 2012.

[2] Di Xuegeng was forced to give the painting to the official named Wang. See Lawton 1973, cited in note 1.

[3] See Lawton 1973, cited in note 1.

[4] The painting along with four other portraits from the set was reproduced in F. S. Kwen, A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient and Genuine Chinese Paintings (Guhua liuzhen) (Shanghai, Laiyuan Company, 1916), cat. no. 60: “The Five Old Men of Suiyang (Album containing five pictures).” The catalogue listed the set as owned by the Manchu collector, Wanyan Jingxian.

[5] See Kwen’s catalogue, cited in note 4. The catalogue illustrated sixty paintings from various collections in China which were delivered to Charles Lang Freer for his purchase consideration by Kwen’s associate, C. T. Loo in October 1916. Freer, however, did not make any purchases and shortly thereafter the album was broken up. See Freer’s letters to Agnes E. Meyer, dated to October 10, 1916 and October 24, 1916, Agnes E. Meyer Papers, Library of Congress.

[6] C. F. Yau (Yao Shulai) was a manager at the Tonying & Company’s branch in New York. According to Yau’s statement, the Tonying & Company was the original American dealer for the Suiyang wulao tu album, see Li Lin-ts’an, “The Five Old Men of Sui-yang,” National Palace Museum Bulletin 8, no. 5 (November -December 1973), p. 10 and Ingrid Larsen, “‘Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures’: Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum,” Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), p. 26, 37, note 135.

[7] See A. G. Wenley’s letter to C. F. Yau, Tonying & Company, dated to July 12, 1948, copy in object file, and Tonying & Company’s invoice, listing two paintings, F1948.10 and F1948.11, dated to July 14, 1948, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Laiyuan Co.
Di Xuegeng born 1820
Wanyan Jingxian ca. 1848-ca. 1927-29
Shengyu 1850-1900
Tonying and Company established 1902


To learn more about this and similar objects, visit http://www.asia.si.edu/SongYuan/default.asp Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. "画中人 上海书画出版社." Chinese Figure Painting. Shanghai, China. .
  • Song Dynasty Paintings Project. multi-volumed, . .
  • Anne de Coursey Clapp. Commemorative Landscape Painting in China. .
  • Nicole Vandier-Nicolas. Chinese Painting: Expression of a Civilization. New York. fig. 98.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: pp. 232.
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga shi. 8 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1988. vol. 2, pl. 129-2.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 3: pl. 202.
  • Eli Lancman. Chinese Portraiture. Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo. pl. 21.
  • Ellen Mae Johnston Laing. Scholars and Sages: A Study in Chinese Figure Paintings. Ann Arbor, 1967-1986. .
  • F.S. Kwen. Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient and Genuine Chinese Paintings. Shanghai. cat. 60b.
  • Hai wai i chen [Chinese Art in Overseas Collections]. Taipei, 1985. vol. 1: p. 111, ill. 28.
  • Chung-kuo shu hua [Chinese Painting]. Taipei. vol. 1: p. 36.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 42, vol. 1: p. 158.
  • Scientific Studies of Pigments in Chinese Paintings. Washington, DC. p. 10, fig. 1.1.
  • Li Pao-hsun. Wu i yu u chai lun lia shih [Paintings seen by the compiler]. p. 11.
  • James Cahill. Chinese Album Leaves in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Japan, 1961-1962. p. 18, pls. 2.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 46.
  • Richard Edwards. The Heart of Ma Yuan: The Search for a Southern Song Aesthetic. Hong Kong. p. 142, fig. 6.11.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Figure Painting. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 41, pp. 164-170.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
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