Korea, Joseon dynasty: Royal Banquet for Celebration of the Fortieth Birthday and Thirty Year Rule of King Sunjo

Generous loan from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea

As its title indicates, this eight-panel folding screen was commissioned by Crown Prince Hyomyeong (1809–1830) to celebrate the 40th birthday and 30th year of the reign of his father, King Sunjo. This work is the earliest and one of the finest surviving examples featuring 19th-century Joseon court-sponsored screens.

The first panel conveys a series of poems composed by court officials in response to the crown prince’s poem that was first recited during the state feast. A formal state feast for male court members is rendered across the first three panels, while a more private and intimate banquet reserved for the king and royal family is painted over the next three panels. Although the royal throne sits empty in front of a screen that bears royal insignias―the mountain with the five peaks (the earth), the sun and the moon discs (the heaven)―this does not indicate the king was absent. The screen symbolizes the royal presence of the king without literally depicting him in the portrait. The last panel bears a list of eight court officials who prepared and executed these celebratory events, and a short note indicating when the screen made. A variety of music and dance performances were sequentially conducted during the private banquet, but on the picture plane they are portrayed as if being performed all at once.

Royal Banquet for Celebration of the Fortieth Birthday and Thirty-Year Rule of King Sunjo, 1829
Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
Eight-panel folding screen, ink and colors on silk; 149.5 x 415 cm.
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea

On view June 6 – September 6, 2016
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