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In Session: Humanity in Objects: Nurturing Self and the Environment in Late Chosŏn Korea
1: Juxtaposition and Hybridity: New Modes of Producing, Appreciating, and Consuming Paintings in Nineteenth-Century Korea
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Ewha Womans University, Republic of Korea
In the nineteenth century, two new painting genres emerged in Korea: Paeksŏndo (screens with a hundred fans, lit. “Hundred-Fan Pictures”) and Paengnapto (screens with various paintings, lit. “Hundred Patch Pictures”). Both types feature numerous square, round, and fan-shaped paintings of landscapes, flora and fauna, and calligraphy on six- or eight-panel screens. Though the specific emphasis of these two genres was different—the former focusing on different shapes of round and folding fans and their arrangement, while the latter more generally contrasted a variety of paintings—they shared common notions of creating composition through juxtaposition, highlighting their mutual interest in visual hybridity. Taken together, these two genres exemplify the new modes of painting collection and appreciation that developed in nineteenth-century Korea. Through a close consideration and comparison of extant works in the Paeksŏndo and Paegnapto genres, this paper explores the social and cultural contexts of these new painting modes. Having thoroughly examined and read each screen painting, scrutinizing its inscriptions, subjects, styles, and seals, while carefully considering how encyclopedic interests were reflected in the production of the small, juxtaposed images of these screen paintings, I suggest that these paintings’ hybridity was the result of collaboration between middle-class literati (chungin or yŏhang munin) and court painters—a collaboration that reflects the emergence of new cultural trends and patrons in the late Chosŏn period.