Lady Under a Banana Tree


Artist: Fei Danxu (1802-1850)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, mid 19th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (mount): 245.8 × 52.3 cm (96 3/4 × 20 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

banana tree, China, qin, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), tree, woman, WWII-era provenance, zither

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


In addition to painting landscapes and flowers, Fei Danxu is known for his excellent portraits. Connoisseurs in the nineteenth century praised his work as being so real they seem like reflections in a mirror. He was especially adept at portraying ladies in natural landscape settings. According to Fei's own inscription on the painting, the lady sitting on a stone bench unwrapping the cloth cover of her qin (zither) is in the style of Tang Yin (1470-1523), one of the Four Masters of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

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

Copyright with museum