Newly Displayed Works in Painting Gallery
Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with Newly Exhibited Joseon Paintings
○ Exhibits: 93 works, including Ullyongdo (Dragon and Clouds) by Seok Gyeong
To usher in the Year of the Dragon, the National Museum of Korea (Director Kim Youngna) has changed all of the paintings in the Painting Gallery, unveiling 93 outstanding new works from the Joseon Dynasty. The Painting Gallery is divided into four areas: Figure Painting; Landscape Painting; Bird, Flower, and Animal Painting; and Royal Court Painting.
The Figure Painting area includes some of the most beloved mythological and historical paintings from Joseon, including Seowonajipdo (Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden) by Kim Hong-do (1745-after 1806) and Jindantaryeodo (Chen Tuan Falls Off His Donkey) by Yun Du-seo (1668-1715), which depicts a famous anecdote from Chinese history, in which Chen Tuan falls off his donkey with delight after learning that Zhao Kuangyin has been crowned Taizu of the Song. This classic painting is further enhanced by the poem that King Sukjong (r. 1674-1720) wrote in the upper left after seeing the painting.
The new exhibit in the Landscape Painting area includes several superior works from the early Joseon period, such as Sosangpalgyeongdo (Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers), attributed to An Gyeon, and Sansudo (Landscape), attributed to Yang Paeng-Son (1488-1545), which shows An Gyeon’s influence. Visitors can also enjoy newly displayed works by late Joseon masters such as Jeong Seon (a.k.a., Gyeomjae, 1676-1759) and Lee In-sang (a.k.a., Neunghogwan, 1710-1760).
The changes in the Bird, Flower, and Animal Painting area are highlighted by the unveiling of Eohaedo, an eight-panel painting of fish and crabs by Jang Han-jong (1768-1815), a master court painter who specialized in paintings of fish and crabs. Also noteworthy is the eight-panel Yeongmodo (Bird-and-Animal) by Hong Se-seop (1832-1884), which includes Hong’s famous masterpiece Yuapdo (Swimming Ducks). This series of eight ink paintings represents one of the crowning achievements of the bird-and-animal genre.
The centerpiece of the newly arranged Royal Court Painting area is no doubt Jinhado, a folding screen painting that commemorates a royal ceremony from 1783, in which King Jeongjo bestowed posthumous titles on his late parents, Crown Prince Jangheon and Lady Hong. The king is flanked by multiple rows of courtiers on either side, and the brilliant coloring and lavish use of gold powder make this painting both solemn and sumptuous, as befits a court event.
Since 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, a diverse selection of dragon paintings from the Joseon era has also been put on display. Dragons have long been revered as creatures with supernatural powers, capable of warding off evil spirits and calamities. Ullyongdo (Dragon and Clouds) by Seok Gyeong depicts a dragon dynamically emerging from clouds, while clutching a charmed bead in its claws. Another gigantic Ullyongdo painting (2 × 2 m, artist unknown) is presumed to have been hung at the gate of a palace or government building at the beginning of a new year to keep away evil spirits and misfortune.
The National Museum of Korea hopes that the new selection of exhibits in the Painting Gallery will greatly enhance visitors’ appreciation of the rich beauty of Joseon paintings.
Seok Gyeong, mid-15th - early 16th century, light color on paper, 24.6 × 19.6 cm
Unknown artist, Joseon, color on paper, 2×2m
1783, color on silk, 153.0×462.4cm
Yuapdo (Swimming Ducks)
Hong Se-seop, 19th century, 119.7×47.9cm
All eight panels of Yeongmodo (Bird-and-Animal) by Hong Se-seop are newly displayed, highlighted by Yuapdo, a wonderfully fresh and lucid painting, remarkable for the masterly control of transitions between light and shade and the highly original composition, offering a bird’s eye view of two ducks floating in a rippling river. The ripples on the surface of the water, pushed by the skimming ducks, are rendered very naturally in light ink.