A Donkey for Mr. Zhu

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Artist: Qiu Ying 仇英 (ca. 1494-1552)
Calligrapher: Xu Zhenqing (1479-1511)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, calligraphy 1500; painting ca. 1550
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 26.5 x 70.1 cm (10 7/16 x 27 5/8 in)
China, Jiangsu province
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


China, donkey, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), scholar

From at least 1824
Wu Xiu (1764-1827), China [1]

From at least 1891
Lu Xinyuan (1834-1894), China [2]

From at least 1902
Duanfang (1861-1911), China [3]

From at least 1928
Guan Mianjun (1871-1933), China [4]

From at least 1967
Frank Caro (1904-1980), New York, New York [5]

From possibly ca. 1967 to 1987
Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York, New York [6]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, gift of Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [7]


[1] According to Wu Xiu 吳修, Qingxiaguan lunhua jueju 青霞館論畫絕句 (One Hundred Quatrains Praising Painting from the Lodge of Green Vapors), (1824), vol. 16, pp. 216–17.

[2] According to Lu Xinyuan 陸心源, Rangliguan guoyan lu 穰梨館過眼錄 (Appreciative Notes on Painting and Calligraphy), (Wuxing: Yigutang 儀顧堂, 1891), 19:3a-5b, along with the first three colophons.

[3] According to Duanfang 端方, Renyin xiaoxia lu 壬寅消夏錄, (1902), 2 vols. In Xuxiu Siku quanshu 續修四庫全書. 1800 vols. (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1995–2002), vol. 1089: vol. 1, pp. 552–54.

[4] According to Guan, Mianjun, San qiu ge shu hua lu (A Catalogue of Calligraphy and Painting from the Hall of Three Autumns), (1928), pp. 46, plate 1.

[5] The handscroll was on loan to the Princeton University Art Museum from January 11, 1967. According to information from the Princeton University Art Museum registrars, initially, the loan agreement listed Frank Caro as the lender. Subsequently, at an unknown date, Frank Caro’s name was crossed off and instead Arthur M. Sackler’s name was written. Given this information, it seems likely that as of at least 1967, Frank Caro was the owner of the painting, when the original loan agreement was signed. See correspondences from the Princeton University Art Museum dated June 25 and June 15, 2018, copies in object file, Collections Management Office. See also Marilyn Fu and Shen Fu, Studies in Connoisseurship: Chinese Paintings from the Arthur M. Sackler Collection in New York, Princeton and Washington DC, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), pp. 86-93.

[6] The object was part of the traveling exhibition, Rarities of Chinese Paintings from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. It was on view at the Princeton University Art Museum, December 8, 1973 – February 3, 1974; Cleveland Museum of Art, July 10 – September 2, 1974; Los Angeles Museum of Art, September 15 – November 3, 1974; Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 13 – September 7, 1976, among possibly other venues. Arthur M. Sackler acquired a number of objects for his collection from Frank Caro’s gallery in New York in the 1960s and 1970s; it is, therefore, possible that he acquired the painting directly from Frank Caro.

[7] Pursuant to the agreement between Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Wu Xiu 1764-1827
Lu Xinyuan 1834-1894
Duanfang 1861-1911
Guan Mianjun 1871-1933
Frank Caro 1904-1980
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987


Inscriptions: After a prose essay in twenty one lines, in regular script.


Artists Seals: Shi fu (relief, square).
Collectors Seals: 14 collectors and appreciators script.
Collector Seals: Zhang Da Qian, Zhang Yuan si-yin (intaglio, square) and Da qian fu zhang Da ji (intaglio, square).


The poor but noted poet and book lover Zhu Cunli is depicted accepting the gift of a donkey purchased with funds collected on his behalf by scholar-friends. This story is told in the calligraphy section of the handscroll.

Published References
  • Where the Truth Lies: The Art of Qiu Ying. Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Munich, Germany. cat. 41, pgs 2 and 105.
  • Shanghai Museum. "丹青宝筏: 董其昌书画艺术特集(套装共4册)." Dan Qing Bao Wei: Dong Qichang's Calligraphy and Art Collection. Exh. cat. Shanghai, China. .
  • Wu Xiu. Chingxiaguan Iunhua juezhu yibaishou [One Hundred Quatrains Praising Painting]. vol. 16, . vol. 16: pp. 216-217.
  • To So Gen Min meiga taikan [A Catalogue of Famous Paintings of the Tang, Sung, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties]. Exh. cat. Tokyo. vol. 2: pl. 279.
  • Robert E. Harrist, Jr. Power and Virtue: Images of Horses in Chinese Art. Exh. cat. New York. .
  • Lu Xinyuan. Zhangliguan guoyenlu [Appreciative Notes on Painting and Calligraphy]. colophons 1-3.
  • Harada Kenjiro. Chugoku meiga hokan [The Pagent of Chinese Painting]. Tokyo. pl. 569.
  • Guan Mianjun. Sanqiuge shuhualu: A Catalogue of Calligraphy and Painting from the Hall of Three Autumns. p. 46, pl. 1.
  • Craig Clunas. Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming. London. pp. 55-56.
  • Sabina Knight. Chinese Literature: A Very Short Introduction. United Kingdom. p. 59.
  • Craig Clunas. Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming., Chinese ed. Taiwan. p. 79, fig. 17-18.
  • Marilyn Fu, Fu Shen. Studies in Connoisseurship: Chinese Paintings from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections in New York, Princeton, and Washington, D.C., 3rd ed. Princeton, 1973. pp. 86-95.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 193, p. 289.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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