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: Courtesans with fan and flute

Courtesans with fan and flute

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)
Artist: Formerly attributed to Zhang Gui (active mid-12th century)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 156.2 x 88.8 cm (61 1/2 x 34 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
In the In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, visits to urban pleasure quarters were a regular occurrence in upper-class life. For educated men, an interlude with a courtesan was a time to shake off official duties and Confucian responsibilities, and they enjoyed being entertained by witty and artistically talented women who played chess, wrote poetry, danced, and knew music. This painting of a young woman who suggestively holds a flute is charged with sexual innuendo. Her companion, a more senior courtesan, holds a rose in a gesture that frequently appears in erotic Chinese paintings.

To 1916
Lee Van Ching (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1916 [1]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Lee Van Ching, in New York, in 1916 [2]

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


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1279, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, LVC Catalogue, 1915, No. 76.

[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
Lee Van Ching 李文卿 (C.L. Freer source) (ca. 1869 - 1931)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
China, fan, flute, music, playing, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), rose, woman
Collection(s) Area
Chinese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

As renovation work continues in the Freer Gallery, the Sackler Gallery also will close on July 10, 2017. This museum-wide closure will allow us to completely reinstall our exhibitions and revitalize features to improve your visit. Both spaces will reopen on October 14, 2017, when we will welcome the public back to the Freer|Sackler: two galleries, one destination. For your safety, all visitors will have their bags checked. See the complete list of restricted items and bag sizes.