late 1800s or early 1900s
Six-fold screen, ink and color on hemp
Painting only: 104.8 x 393.7 cm (41 1/4 x 155 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1996.256
Gibbons were often presented to the Joseon royal court as diplomatic gifts from the Japanese government.
In contrast to the normal pairing of six-fold screens in Japanese culture, Korean screens are typically eight- or ten-fold, and are not linked as a pair. Also, Korean screens are traditionally mounted on raised "feet." The subject of this composition surely refers to a land of immortality, inhabited by gibbon families and a single white crane. Daoism and its cult of immortality enjoyed popularity during the Choson period, and lavish screens of this genre were produced for the imperial palace and court. and in aristocratic homes. Such visual emblems of longevity were naturally considered auspicious accessories at court ceremonies too. The dynamic composition and vivid palette of mineral pigments combine to produce an "otherworldly" setting for the frolicking gibbons.
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