Rice Paddies and Egrets, after a Poem by Wang Wei

Artist: Li Shizhuo 李世倬 (1690-1770)
Author: Wang Wei (poem) (ca. 701-761)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1741
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 24.2 x 52.3 cm (9 1/2 x 20 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Fan (mounted as album leaf)

China, farming, heron, landscape, poems, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), rice, scholar, summer

To 1960
Chen Rentao (1906-1968), Hong Kong, and Frank Caro, C. T. Loo & Co., New York, to 1960 [1]

From 1960 to 1979
Department of Treasury, U. S. Customs Service [2]

From 1979
Freer Gallery of Art, from October 23, 1979 [3]

[1] 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).

[2] 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.

[3] 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


According to the artist's inscription, the painting on this fan was inspired by a famous poem from the Tang dynasty (618-907)-in particular, the third and fourth lines of an eight-line poem by the poet, painter, and statesman Wang Wei (ca. 701-761), who is widely celebrated for his closely observed descriptions of his country estate at Wang River. A deep sense of tranquillity pervades Wang's works, and a later admirer once commented that there were paintings in his poems, and poems in his paintings. The poem that inspired this painting is titled Composed at My Wang River Estate after Prolonged Rain. The first four lines read:

Prolonged rain in the empty forest, our smoky fire burns slowly,
As we steam some greens and millet to supply the eastern fields.
In the vast expanse, white herons fly above the flooded paddies,
A golden oriole warbles from the murky shadows of a summer tree.

Translation by Stephen D. Allee 

Published References
  • Yang Danxia. Li Shizhuo shengping ji huihua yanjiu. no. 1. pp. 392-435.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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