Two Fighting Water Buffaloes

Historical period(s)
Southern Song or Yuan dynasty, 13th-14th century
Ink and colors on silk
H x W (image): 148 x 74 cm (58 1/4 x 29 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Ruth Meyer Epstein
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

battle, China, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), water buffalo, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)

Possibly An Qi (An Yizhou, ca. 1683-ca. 1744) [1]

Possibly Hongli, the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1735-96) (1711-1799) [2]

To 1915
Pang Yuanji (1864-1949), Shanghai [3]

From 1915 to 1970
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Mt. Kisco, NY, purchased through C. T. Loo & Co. from Pang Yuanji on May 15, 1915 [4]

From 1970 to 1992
Ruth Meyer Epstein (1921-2007), Scarsdale, NY, by descent from her mother, Agnes E. Meyer

From 1992
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Ruth Meyer Epstein in 1992 [5]


[1] An Qi’s collector seal is located on the painting. The colophon written by Lu Hui (1851-1920) is mounted on the back of the frame. Lu Hui states that this is the same painting which appears in An Qi’s catalogue Moyuan huiguan, under the name of Dai Song and cites a passage from the collector’s catalogue. F1992.43 meets all the particulars specified in An Qi’s catalogue entry, especially in overall description of the composition and in the identification and placement of four of its seven seals. However, there is one discrepancy: An Qi’s entry includes mention of the water buffaloes “red starring eyes,” the element which does not correspond with the Freer Gallery painting. See An Qi, Moyuan huiguan (Beijing: Liulichang, Hanwen Zhai, 1914), 1b-2a. For annotated translation of the catalogue entry see Thomas Lawton, “An Eighteenth Century Chinese Catalogue of Calligraphy and Painting,” thesis (Harvard University, 1970), vol. 1, p. 51-52, vol. 3, p. xix-xx.

[2] Two seals used during the reign of the Qianlong emperor are located on the painting. However, the painting is not listed in the standard catalogues of the Qianlong imperial collection.

[3] The painting is listed with detailed description in the bilingual catalogue compiled by Pang on the occasion of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, Pang Lai Ch’en [Pang Yuanji], Biographies of Famous Chinese Paintings: From the Private Collections of L.C. Pang, Che-kiang, China (Shanghai: Mercantile Printing Co., 1915), p. 12-13: “Tai Sung, Bull-Fight.”

[4] The scroll was among the paintings brought by Pang Yuanji with the assistance of his cousin Pang Zanchen and the dealer C. T. Loo, to the United States on the occasion of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, see Pang Lai Ch’en [Pang Yuanji] 1915, p. 12-13. The Meyers examined the painting in New York prior to its transfer to San Francisco in April 1915, see Eugene Meyer’s telegram to Charles L. Freer, April 30, 1915, Eugene Meyer Papers, Library of Congress, copy in object file.

[5] See Ruth Meyer Epstein’s Deed of Gift, dated July 9, 1992, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

An Qi
Hongli, the Qianlong emperor 1711-1799
Pang Yuanji 1864-1949
Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)
Mrs. Ruth Meyer Epstein 1921-2007

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

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