Cai Wenji Returns to China

citation

Maker(s)
Artist: Tiezhou
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, probably 1813
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
H x W (image): 22.4 x 49 cm (8 13/16 x 19 5/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Accession Number
F1980.142g
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Album, Painting
Type

Fan (mounted as album leaf)

Keywords
Cai Wenji, China, horse, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

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)

U.S. Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Chen Rentao 1906-1968
Frank Caro 1904-1980

Label

The scene painted on a fan shows Cai Wenji, mounted on a horse to the right, getting ready to return to her homeland. She is forced to leave behind her two mixed-blood sons: the older one cries and the younger one, held by a nanny, reaches out for his mother. To the left of the painter’s inscription in the middle section is an excerpt of Wenji’s brief biography taken from the History of the Later Han Dynasty, compiled by Fan Ye (398–445).

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

Copyright with museum

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