Orchids And Rocks
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2001.72
People
Yi Ha-ûng (also known as Tae-wôn-kun), Korean ( 1820 - 1898)
Title
Orchids and Rocks
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
screen, painting
Date
dated early autumn 1892
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, Korea
Period
Chosôn dynasty, 1392-1910
Culture
Korean
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ten-panel folding screen; ink on silk; with signature reading "Sôk-p’a ch’il-ship-sam-se no-in chak" [Done by the seventy three year old man Sôk-p’a]; with seals of the artist reading "Taewônkun chang" and "Sôkp’a" following the signature
Dimensions
paintings proper: H. 145.5 x W. 29 cm (57 5/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
screen mounting: 225 x 459.6 cm (88 9/16 x 180 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: artist's signature and seals
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Edition
#081
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for the Acquisition of Oriental Art and David Berg, Esq., Bequest Fund
Accession Year
2001
Object Number
2001.72
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
A royal prince, Yi Ha-ûng was the father of King Ko-chong (r. 1864-1906), the last king of the Chosôn dynasty (1392-1910). In addition to being an enlightened statesman, Yi was an accomplished painter and calligrapher who was unsurpassed in his mastery of orchid painting. Frequently depicted in literati paintings alongside rocks and boulders, the orchid appears graceful, elegant, and unaffected by its rough surroundings. The orchids and rocks in Yi's paintings typically enter the composition at dramatic angles and generally occupy only one corner or one side of a composition.

Korean folding screens often have six panels, like those painted in Japan; more characteristically, however, Korean screens boast eight, ten, or even twelve panels. In some cases, a Korean screen may feature a single, unified composition that spreads across all its panels; in other instances--such as this one--each panel is conceived as an individual painting. The ten separate paintings that compose this screen are grouped in four pairs, with an individual composition mounted on the first and last panels of the screen. Each of the four pairs in the middle can be read as a single composition or as two separate paintings. Such visual double entendres held a special allure for Korean literati artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. This screen's large size and its royal authorship indicate that it was painted for one of the royal palaces.

Each painting bears a personal seal of the artist, rather than a seal with the artist's name or sobriquet. For example, the seal in the lower right corner of the ninth panel (second from the left) translates into the aphorism "The best time to view a flower is when it is half open." The other nine personal seal impressions vary from idiomatic phrases to humorous remarks on Daoism and Buddhism. In the very last panel at the far left, however, Yi Ha-ûng signs and impresses two of his artist's seals to the painting, making the authorship of this important screen indisputable. His inscription translates as, "Done by the seventy-three-year-old old man Sôk-p'a in the early autumn of 1892."
Exhibition History

Plum, Orchid, Chrysanthemum, and Bamboo: Botanical Motifs and Symbols in East Asian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 07/06/2002 - 01/05/2003

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted