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Books and scholars’ possessions (chaekgeori)
Place of Origin: Korea
Date: approx. 1864-1871
Historical Period: Joseon dynasty (1392-1910)
Object Name: Eight panel folding screen
Materials: Eight panel folding screen; Ink and colors on paper
Dimensions: H. 64 3/4 in x W. 14 1/8 in, H. 164.5 cm x W. 33.9 cm (image); H. 80 1/4 in x W. 114 in, H. 203.8 cm x W. 289.6 cm (overall)
Credit Line: Acquisition made possible by the Koret Foundation, the Connoisseurs' Council and Korean Art and Culture Committee. Re-mounting funded by the Society for Asian Art
Department: Korean Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1998.111
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 23

Description

Label: The theme of books and scholars’ possessions (chaekgeori) became popular at court and with members of the elite class during the eighteenth century. King Jeongjo (reigned; 1776-1800), famed for his love of books, helped popularize this theme. The king often commissioned court artists to paint this subject matter, and he displayed their screens behind his thrones. Chaekgeori paintings always include stacks of books, brushes, ink sticks, inkstones, scrolls, and antiquities—items that scholars had (or wished to have) around them in their studies.

Chaekgeori painters were innovative in exploiting a variety of techniques for depicting the illusion of three-dimensional perspective (trompe l’oeil). For this screen of bookshelves, the painter employed elements of both Western and Eastern perspectives; in depicting the book stacks, for instance, he combined receding surfaces of an interior space in the Western style with such Eastern elements as multiple vanishing points and isometric perspective.

This chaekgeori screen is significant, as there is a seal bearing the painter’s name on the top shelf of the fourth panel from the right. During the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), court painters could not sign their names on their artworks, but Yi playfully imprinted his name on a seal placed horizontally in the painting. Yi, a court painter during the nineteenth century, came from a family of court painters. The seal on this screen is read Yi Eungrok, the name he used from 1864 to 1871. Before 1864, he used the name Yi Hyeongrok, and after 1871, he changed his name to Yi Taekgyun.
Label: The theme of books and scholars’ possessions (chaekgeori) became popular at court and with members of the elite class during the eighteenth century. King Jeongjo (reigned; 1776-1800), famed for his love of books, helped popularize this theme. The king often commissioned court artists to paint this subject matter, and he displayed their screens behind his thrones. Chaekgeori paintings always include stacks of books, brushes, ink sticks, inkstones, scrolls, and antiquities—items that scholars had (or wished to have) around them in their studies.

Chaekgeori painters were innovative in exploiting a variety of techniques for depicting the illusion of three-dimensional perspective (trompe l’oeil). For this screen of bookshelves, the painter employed elements of both Western and Eastern perspectives; in depicting the book stacks, for instance, he combined receding surfaces of an interior space in the Western style with such Eastern elements as multiple vanishing points and isometric perspective.

This chaekgeori screen is significant, as there is a seal bearing the painter’s name on the top shelf of the fourth panel from the right. During the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), court painters could not sign their names on their artworks, but Yi playfully imprinted his name on a seal placed horizontally in the painting. Yi, a court painter during the nineteenth century, came from a family of court painters. The seal on this screen is read Yi Eungrok, the name he used from 1864 to 1871. Before 1864, he used the name Yi Hyeongrok, and after 1871, he changed his name to Yi Taekgyun.
Resources:

Video: The Story of a Korean Scholar's Accoutrement Painting (Part 1 of 2): http://youtu.be/5ApjGx_R1dE
Video: The Story of a Korean Scholar's Accoutrement Painting (Part 2 of 2): http://youtu.be/im0xMFIdR1w

Kumja Paik Kim, Curator Emerita of Korean Art at the Asian Art Museum, discusses the Korean scholar's accoutrement painting in the Asian Art Museum's collection. A lecture presented by the Society for Asian Art on March 20, 2015.