The Five Ancients


Artist: Formerly attributed to Li Congxun (active early 12th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 15th-early 16th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 163.7 x 221.5 cm (64 7/16 x 87 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

China, crane, deer, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), sage, tortoise

To 1917
Li Wenqing (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1917 [1]

From 1917 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing, in New York, in 1917 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1174, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, Voucher No. 18, December 1916.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869 - 1931


Accompanied by animals that symbolize longevity, the five elderly gentlemen depicted in this painting may represent China's Five Sacred Mountains, the Five Elements of the Cosmos, or the Five Oldsters of Suiyang, high-ranking ministers of the eleventh century who were admired for serving in office past age eighty. The spirit of the Five Sacred Mountains are associated with the immortals. Originally, the painting was larger. Mounted in a wooden frame, it may have been used as a screen placed behind an honored person's chair.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum