From the Great Han Empire to the 1950s
This painting depicts the funerary procession of Empress Myeongseong in 1897, and is speculated to be a piece commissioned in the process of correcting procedural mistakes through the supervision of relevant officials in order to prevent such mistakes during the actual event. The state funeral of Empress Myeongseong was a significant event through which the Great Han declared itself to the world as an imperial power and an independent nation-state, and this picture illustrates the preparations and considerations behind this occasion.
Section of The Funeral Procession of Empress Myeongseong : Sinyeon, Bongyeo
Upon his ascent to the throne, Gojong elevated the queen to the position of empress, and decreed the color of all ceremonial goods to be changed to gold. In order to befit the station of the empress, new ceremonial goods were produced, such as the royal sedan chair. The new ceremonial goods may have been designed to emulate those featured in the Hwangjoyegidosik, which was completed in 1759, the 24th year in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty.
Section of The Funeral Procession of Empress Myeongseong : Daeyeo
The daeyeo was a type of ceremonial palanquin used when transporting the jaegung, which was the casket containing the king or queen during a royal funeral. This was the most extravagant gama of all, carried by dozens of porters and led by a coordinator on top of the daeyeo itself.
The King’s Excursion on a Royal Carriage is a royal documentary painting that illustrates the procession for Gojong’s royal excursion. At the head of the painting, the title Daehanjeguk Donggado Seokjisa indicates this piece to be the work of Chae Yong-shin, arguably the most renowned portrait painter of the period. However, discrepancies in the pen-strokes and inaccuracies in the depicted procession order, use of written characters, and the order of the painting covers have led to various interpretations as to the date of production and author of the painting. Directly portraying the king unlike in previous depictions of royal events, and using an aspect of Western painting by directly applying the brush instead of using colored engravings, The King’s Excursion on a Royal Carriage is a fascinating work that depicts the procession of Gojong’s royal excursion with a sense of gravitas and opulence.
Section of The King’s Excursion on a Royal Carriage : Portrayal of the King
Gojong makes four direct appearances from the mid-section of the scroll. His first appearance shows Gojong dressed in military attire as he is preceded by the eunuchs of Gyeomnaechwi, the ceremonial musical troupe; next, the scene is broken up and the second depiction of Gojong features him upon the royal open-top gama and dressed in gonryongpo, the dragon-imprinted royal robe, and the ikseongwan, a type of wide-brim hat worn by royalty. In the second depiction, Gojong is also accompanied by uima and eosukma, which are horses carrying items required by the procession. The subsequent two appearances depict Gojong riding the royal carriage with senior officials of the dangsang level.
This painting Jo Seok-jin’s depiction of a meeting held by the Bureau of National Defense, which was the organization responsible for the decision on the Gabo Reform. The inscription on the top right of the image reads, “Meeting of the Bureau of National Defense on 26 July of the 31st year of Gojong’s reign, attended by the chairperson and 17 others,” which implies that the painting was commissioned to commemorate the establishment of the said organization, which existed from 27 July 1894 to 17 December of the same year. The lower part of the image is inscribed with the list of members at the time of the bureau’s founding.
This stamp was issued using a printing press that was ordered from Germany to allow the domestic printing of stamps in Korea. From 2 January 1900, the Department of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry of the Great Han Empire began the domestic issuance of 11 types of stamps. These stamps mainly featured plum tree blossoms or taegeuk designs as symbols of the royal dynasty, and comprise the first specimens printed by machine in Korea.
Lee Do-yeong was a teaching assistant at Seohwa Misulhoe and his theme in the painting is similar to that found in the Flavor of Early Autumn by Ahn Jung-sik. Written in the upper corner is the phrase, “clear elegance of Hongmungwan,” the office of special counselors, along with another inscription to signify Lee Do-yeong as the author.
Ji Un-yeong was a scholar painter working between the late Joseon Dynasty and early modern Korea. This painting features the famous poet-official Su Shi strolling along on a red cliff. Red cliffs were one of the common painting motifs among literati until the late Joseon Dynasty. This painting is considered key to understanding the works of Ji Un-yeong, as its composition is groundbreaking and impressive compared to many other Red cliff paintings.
Kim Eun-ho completed many landscape, bird and flower paintings—as well as those of birds and animals—and he was especially good at accurately detailed colored paintings. In the center of this painting a bird sits on the branch of a cherry tree in autumn, and behind that are the twigs of a low bamboo tree. He depicts worm-eaten leaves with remarkable accuracy and the bird as if a stuffed bird had served as his model, reminding us of pictures painted in modern Japan.
Painted by Lee Sang-beom in 1958, commemorating the 60th birthday of Dr. Helen Kim, the 7th president of Ewha Womans University. The painting portrays a landscape in which a tile-roofed house stands in the woods on a hill by a stream and flowers express a cheerful sense of spring. On the right is a seal mark with a poem reading: “A house on a high place is filled with a beautiful feeling of pear blossoms on a hillock. In spring 1958, a year of musul. Painted by Cheongjeon to celebrate the 60th birthday of Dr. Uwol.” “Pear blossoms on a hillock” or Iwon (梨園) generally refers to Jangakwon, the bureau of court music in the Joseon Dynasty, but in this painting it seems to indicate Ewha Womans University.
Lee Chong-woo, a 1923 graduate from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, left for Paris to study in 1925 to develop the technique of classical realism. During his stay in Paris in 1926, Lee painted this picture for a Korean student studying in Paris and portrayed him in the image of an intellectual accepting new Western culture. Lee Chong-woo distinctly painted the student’s expression, muscles, and facial lines as a realistic representation rather than as an idealization.
Park Young-seun embraced and developed the new trends and formative style of art in his own way during his four-year stay in Paris where he went to study in 1955. This work shows the geometrical space division of Cubism, the two-dimensional expression of objects, and shades of slate-grey and red, which are the key characteristics of his Paris works. Park left a varied series of paintings depicting women indoors and expressing a woman with exotic features as a paragon of beauty.
To Sang-bong began to focus on still life paintings that depicted objects such as ceramics, flowers, and fruits. Wood Box and Bottle featuring quiet color shades of greyish brown and deep, dark brown offers a sense of nostalgia since the chest of drawers and white octagonal porcelain bottle of the late of Joseon Dynasty are adopted in the motif.
Kim Whanki, the pioneer of Korean abstract art, expressed a Korean sentiment and sense of beauty through understated formative language by choosing natural and traditional subjects such as mountains, rivers, the moon, cranes, Japanese apricots, and moon jars. Untitled, a work belonging to the period when he studied in Paris, concisely expresses the shapes of the round moon, mountains, and birds flying above them as simple stylized lines and shapes, thereby displaying abstractness.
Organized by Ewha Womans University Museum
Directed by Jang Namwon
Curatorial Supported by Oh Jin-Kyeong, Hong Sun-Pyo
Curated by Kim Joo-Yeon, Shin li-Ji, Chang Mi, Jang Hyo-Jin, Hwang I-sook