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
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

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

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)

Mr. Myron S. Falk, Jr. 1906 - 1992
Mathias Komor 1909 - 1984
Patricia Falk
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 with major contributions by 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
Rights Statement

Copyright with artist