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: Square mirror with floral medallion, plant sprays, birds, and insects

Square mirror with floral medallion, plant sprays, birds, and insects

Historical period(s)
Middle Tang dynasty, 8th century
Cast bronze, gold and silver sheets with chased decoration, and lacquer
H x W x D: 15.9 x 15.9 x 1.1 cm (6 1/4 x 6 1/4 x 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number

From at least 1929 to at least 1938
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1971-1941), New York and "The Chimneys," Sands Point, Port Washington, Long Island, from at least 1929 [1]

From at least 1944
Tonying and Company, New York from at least February 1944 [2]

From 1944
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company, New York on February 7, 1944 [3]


[1] See Yamanaka & Company, To-So Seikwa: Select relics of the Tang and Sung Dynasties from the Collections in Europe and America, vol. 2 (Osaka, 1929), pl. 47. According to this source, the mirror reportedly was excavated at Mapo, Luoyang, Henan province. In 1938 Mrs. Holmes lent the mirror to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, see Chinese Bronzes of the Shang (1766-1122 B. C.) through the T’ang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906) (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 19-November 27, 1938), cat. 245 (ill.).

[2] See Tonying & Company’s invoice, dated February 7, 1944, in which the mirror figures under no. B. 81: “Fine Bronze Mirror, nearly square with rounded corners, decorated with Phoenix, Butterflies, etc. / Tang” copy in object file. The acquisition was approved by C. G. Abbot, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, on February 4, 1944, see “List of Objects Contemplated for Purchase by the Freer Gallery of Art,” copy in object file.

[3] See invoice cited in note 2. See also A. G. Wenley’s letter to C. F. Yau, Tonying & Co., dated February 5, 1944, in which Wenley confirms the purchase of the mirror along with seven other mirrors from the Holmes collection (see records for F1944.3-F1944.7, F1944.9 -F1944.10).

Former owner
Mrs. Christian R. Holmes (1871 - 1941)
Tonying and Company 通運公司
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Mirror
casting, China, inlay, phoenix, pingtuo, Tang dynasty (618 - 907), WWII-era provenance
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.