Chen Rentao (1906-1968), Hong Kong, and Frank Caro, C. T. Loo & Co., New York, to 1960 
From 1960 to 1979
Department of Treasury, U. S. Customs Service 
Freer Gallery of Art, from October 23, 1979 
 This object is one of a group of 88 objects (F80.104-F80.180, FSC-S-22-25 and FSC-O-11a-h) seized in 1960 by the U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, from the dealer and collector Chen Rentao, Hong Kong and Frank Caro of C. T. Loo & Co., New York. The objects were deemed to have been introduced into the commerce of the United States in violation of 19 U.S.C. 1592 (Trade with Communist China).
 See note 1. The object’s ownership title is based on the settlement agreement, dated November 1971, between the United States, Chen Tung Siang Wen, the executrix for Chen Rentao Estate, and Frank Caro, copy in object file. See U.S. Customs Service Memorandum, April 23, 1979 and a letter from Thadeus Rojek, Chief Counsel, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Custom Service, to Marie C. Malaro, Assistant General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution, dated November 29, 1979, copy in object file. The objects remained in the custody of the U.S. Customs Service office in New York until 1979.
 The object was transferred to the Freer Gallery of Art on October 23, 1979.
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
U.S. Customs Service
Frank Caro 1904-1980
Chen Rentao 1906-1968
The painting shows a scholar in a rustic hut beneath the pines by a river. In the distance there are mountains and a waterfall, and the moon is in the sky.
The full moon is depicted above the valley and waterfall. Wang Hui did the painting for Tan-hsia, who is included in the scene, contemplating a crane in the yard of his hut.
(Fu Shen and Julia Murray, 1981) The artist inscribed the painting in the upper left, giving it a title, Mei-hsi kao-yin, and dedicating it to someone he calls Tan-hsia tao-chang (unidentified). The inscription is dated the last month of the year ting-mao (although the year ting-mao mostly corresponds to 1687 in the Western calendar, the last month would fall into 1688 by Western reckoning). Two seals follow Wang Hui's signature, reading Wang Hui chih yin and Shih-ku.
There is also an inscription by Chou Erh-ch'ing (probably early Ch'ing), containing a poem in seven-character meter and accompanied by three seals.
One of the most versatile painters of his time, Wang Hui closely adhered to the theoretical dictates of Dong Qichang (1555-1636) and largely turned for inspiration to the styles of the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th century). Unlike many of Wang's more formal and art-historically oriented works, however, this simple landscape painting is personal and intimate in tone and is dedicated to a friend known as the Master of the Cinnabar Clouds, who is shown in the midst of his rustic retreat. The tranquillity of the scene was captured by the contemporary seventeenth-century poet Zhou Eryan, who inscribed a poem on the painting:
From deep places in the tangled hills frigid clouds arise,
A sparse scatter of budding plums stretches above the hut.
Alone and reading a book, he sits beside the railing,
The sound of the pines seems louder with no one else around.
Translation by Stephen D. Allee
- Collection Area(s)
- Chinese Art
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