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Overseas Joseon era paintings on display at National Palace Museum

Sept. 10, 2019 - 17:19 By Yoon Min-sik
Joseon era paintings that are currently in possession of institutions outside of South Korea will be revealed to the public via a special exhibition, the Cultural Heritage Administration said Tuesday.

“One Hundred Children” (CHA)

Titled “Restoring the Legacy of Korean Paintings,” the exhibition will run from Wednesday through Oct. 13 at the National Palace Museum of Korea, showcasing a total of nine paintings and three embroidery screens dating from the early Joseon era (1392–1897) to the early 20th century. It a joint project by the NPMK and the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, both affiliates of the CHA.

The pieces on display were temporarily returned to Korea for restoration and will be shown to the public for a brief period before they are sent back to their owners.

The 12 works came from the US and Europe: Cleveland Museum of Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art in the United States; Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Sweden; Museum at the Rothenbaum and Mission Museum of St. Ottilien Archabbey in Germany; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK. 

“Dwelling by a Mountain Stream” (CHA)

Among the works are “Dwelling by a Mountain Stream” currently owned by the Cleveland museum, which is part of a series depicting eight views of Xiao and Xiang rivers. According to the CHA, the depiction of the mountain village is “a noteworthy rare example of an early Joseon painting.”

A painting from late-Joseon period, “Orchids” drawn on black silk using gold pigment is a work by King Gojong’s father Heungseon Daewongun Yi Ha-eung. Yi, a powerful royal figure, was known for his artistic talents and orchid drawings, which were a popular pastime for the literati and the noblemen of the time.

“Leopard and Magpie” (CHA)

On the sideline of the exhibition, the OKCHF is hosting a symposium with five curators from the related institutions and an expert from the Jung-jae Conservation Center on Sept. 26, which will feature discussion on the significance of the works and their conservation.

“The CHA hopes visitors will take this opportunity to note how Korean cultural properties in the collections of overseas museums that had suffered damage, alteration, or ill-conceived restoration are being restored to their original beauty with help from CHA and OKCHF,” the CHA said.

Since 2013, the OKCHF has supported the conservation of 36 Korean cultural heritage assets located outside of the country, at 21 institutions in eight countries. Exhibitions of these restored works have been held every year since 2015.

By Yoon Min-sik (