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: Peonies


Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)
Artist: Follower of Yun Shouping (1633-1690)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 160.4 x 76.3 cm (63 1/8 x 30 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
Legend has it that one winter day Empress Wu (reigned 684-705) commanded the flowers in her royal garden to bloom and all obeyed-except the peony. Angered, she banished the flower from Changan, the capital, to Luoyang, which is now known as the "City of Peonies." This tale of stubbornness and degradation notwithstanding, the tree peony was a favorite of the Tang dynasty court, prized for its exquisitely shaped petals and stunning colors. Peonies continue to be honored as a symbol of status and power, inspiring such sobriquets as the "king of flowers" (huawang), "beauty of nations and scent of heaven" (guoshe tianxiang), and "flower of wealth and rank" (fuguihua).

To 1901
Yamanaka & Company, to 1901 [1]

From 1901 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1901 [2]

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


[1] Original folder sheet note. Also see Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 264, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[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.

Former owner
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
China, flower, lily, peony, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Collection(s) Area
Chinese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is currently closed for renovations, updates, and gallery reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Please join us for our weekend-long reopening celebration on October 14 and 15, 2017.