Sleeping Gibbon

Artist: Zhang Daqian 張大千 (China, 1899-1983) Signed as Liang Kai 梁楷 (late 12th-early 13th century)
Calligrapher: Superscription by Puru (China, 1896-1963)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, ca. 1934
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 163.7 x 67.1 cm (64 7/16 x 26 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Patricia Falk, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Myron S. Falk, Jr
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, forgery, gibbon, Modern period (1912 - present), monkey, sleeping

To 1950
Mathias Komor (died 1984), New York acquired from the artist, to 1950 [1]

From 1950
Mr. and Mrs. Myron S. Falk, Jr., New York purchased from Mathias Komor in 1950 [2]

To 2002
Patricia Falk, New York by descent from Mr. and Mrs. Myron S. Falk, Jr., to 2002

From 2002
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, given by Patricia Falk in 2002


[1] According to Provenance Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Patricia Falk
Myron S. Falk, Jr. 1906-1992
Mathias Komor 1909-1984
Pauline Baerwald Falk 1910-2000


Sleeping Gibbon is an early forgery by Chang Dai-chien, one of China's most influential modern painters. He created Sleeping Gibbon around 1934, when he was relentlessly studying and imitating past masters to hone his own painting skill. Chang liked to test his success by occasionally trying to pass off his forgeries, and he also enjoyed the profits he could reap. He learned to fake physical damage to his paintings to complete their impression of antiquity; note the battered look of this hanging scroll--including the "aged" color of the paper, induced by the artist.

Here, with a minimum of strokes, Chang Dai-chien brushed an image in a style associated with the Southern Song dynasty artist Liang Kai, whose signature he faked, as well. In fact, the brushwork is too loose for a genuine Liang Kai, but Chang knew how rare Liang's works were in China and banked on being able to get away with his sophisticated trickery. He cajoled his friend Puru to write a colophon (sometimes Puru authenticated Chang's forgeries knowingly, and sometimes unwittingly). Whichever the case here, Puru stated that Sleeping Gibbon was a masterpiece in Chang's personal collection of antiquities. When the scroll reached the market, buyers assumed it was an ancient gem Chang had parted with reluctantly. Chang Dai-chien made a second, nearly identical forgery of Sleeping Gibbon that entered the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1956, before he admitted it was his work.

Published References
  • Fu Shen, Jan Stuart. Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-Chien. Exh. cat. Washington and Seattle. cat. 11, 12, pp. 116-119.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.