Surviving paintings of the early Choson period in Korea, while not numerous, provide modern viewers with a consistent ensemble of subject matter, painting formats, and stylistic approaches. Along with landscape painting, animal, bird, and flower paintings, a few portraits, grapes, bamboo, figural compositions, and kyehoe-do (commem-orative rites scenes) make up the basic repertoire of subjects. The late 15th- and 16th-century landscapes that have survived, however, are modest in format. Korean painters preferred to work in a restricted compositional arena.
The subject here is straightforward: a solitary figure seated in a small boat fishing. Clad in a straw rain poncho and wide-brimmed hat, the fisherman has chosen a body of water that could be part of a lake or a river. Reeds sparkle on the far shoreline among dark, black rock forms that appear to float above the water. On the near shoreline are a pair of pines, a grove of bamboo or water reeds, and two withered deciduous trees from which moss hangs. Otherwise the vista is barren (except for a distant waterfall), emphasizing the profound space, the dim light, and the frosty air that forces the fisherman to huddle beneath his clothing.