© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hŏ Ryŏn (also known as So-ch'i and Ma-hil), Korean (1809 - 1893)
The Chinese Scholar Mi Fu (1051-1107) Paying Homage to a Fantastic Rock
Paintings with Calligraphy
Work Type
painting with calligraphy, hanging scroll
autumn 1885
Creation Place: East Asia, Korea
Chosŏn dynasty, 1392-1910
Physical Descriptions
Hanging scroll; ink and colors on paper; with signature reading "So-ch'i sŏ"; with four seals of the artist
painting proper: H. 91 x W. 49 cm (35 13/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
mounting, including cord and roller ends: H. 167 x W. 71.8 cm (65 3/4 x 28 1/4 in.)
[Kang Collection, New York (2003)] sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2003.
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
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Label Text: Cultivating Virtue: Botanical Motifs and Symbols in East Asian Art , written 2006
Ho˘ Ryo˘ n was a celebrated poet, calligrapher, and painter. His teacher, Kim Cho˘ ng-hui (1786 –1856), praised his paintings as “unrivaled east of the Yalu River,” a statement that essentially characterizes Ho˘ Ryo˘ n’s works as “Korea’s best,” since the Yalu divides the Korean peninsula from China. Ho˘ Ryo˘ n’s mature, expressionistic style, exhibited in this newly acquired hanging scroll, became the foundation for twentieth-century Korean literati painting.
Boldly written in six large characters, the title identifies this scene as Mi Fu paying homage to a rock. A famous Chinese scholar-official of the Northern Song period (960–1127), Mi Fu (1052–1107) was also a celebrated painter, calligrapher, and connoisseur. He cherished fine garden rocks, particularly ones of unusual shape from Lake Tai in Jiangsu province. Legend recounts that one day, upon encountering a rock more magnificent than any other he had seen, Mi Fu bowed before it and addressed it as “Elder Brother.” That occasion held special appeal for Chinese and Korean literati of later periods, who admired and shared Mi Fu’s eccentric sensibilities.
Although many Korean artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries chose to paint native Korean landscapes and figures, a few, like Ho˘ Ryo˘ n, continued to depict Chinese themes. Because literati paintings from China were actively collected in Korea, Korean artists were able to base their works closely on those revered Chinese prototypes. Likewise, Korean Confucian scholars based much of their literary output on close readings of the Chinese classics.
Ho˘ Ryo˘ n’s productivity declined during his later years. Thus, this scroll, which he painted at the age of seventy-six, ranks among his rare late works.

Exhibition History

Rocks, Mountains, Landscapes and Gardens: The Essence of East Asian Painting ('04), Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 01/31/2004 - 08/01/2004

Forging the New: East Asian Painting in the Twentieth Century, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/03/2005 - 10/16/2005

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu