09 June 2014
Among the pieces featured in the Jin Joo Gallery through March 15, 2015 is the JSMA’s “Ten Symbols of Longevity” (Shipjangsaengdo) screen, which was commissioned in 1879 to celebrate the recovery from smallpox of Crown Prince Yi Cheok (1874–1926), who grew up to become Emperor Sunjong, the final ruler of the Joseon dynasty. This vibrant screen of auspicious landscape, floral, and animal motifs bears a lengthy inscription naming the physicians and members of the court credited with returning the prince to good health. It is generally acknowledged as one of the most important Korean court paintings of its type and was acquired in 1924 by the museum’s founder, Gertrude Bass Warner (1863-1951). This screen was recently conserved through a generous grant from the Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage (KNRICH). The JSMA is deeply indebted to the KNRICH for its support of this project as well as to conservator SONG Jeongju and her staff at the Gochang Conservation Institute for bringing the painting back to its original glory. This is the first showing of the JSMA’s Ten Symbols screen since its return from Korea, where it was the centerpiece of a special exhibition at the National Palace Museum in Seoul.
The companion exhibition, “Elegance and Nobility: Modern and Contemporary Korean Literati Taste,” is comprised of a small selection of 20th-21st century Korean calligraphy, painting, and ceramics. The centerpiece is the museum’s exquisite “Ten Chinese Poems” screen by master calligrapher JUNG Hyunbok (1909-1973). This tours-de-force of expressive brushwork is the focus of an upcoming JSMA publication. The installation also features other modern and contemporary calligraphic works, a modern landscape painting by LEE Sang-beom (1897-1972), and a diverse selection of Korean ceramics, including stoneware vessels dating to the 5th century, Goryeo-dynasty (918-1392) celadons (notably a rare and beautiful reverse-inlaid “Bowl with Stylized Floral Designs”), and a number of elegant, recently-acquired porcelains by contemporary artists KIM Yikyung and LEE Young-Ho.
“Elegance and Nobility” is on view through June 17, 2015. The JSMA was the first American university museum to designate permanent galleries for the display of Korean art and remains one of a handful of academic museums with such galleries. Its Korean art collection is among the most distinguished in the nation.