Bird Sleeping on a Plum Tree

Bird Sleeping on a Plum Tree

매화나무 위의 졸고 있는 새 (梅竹鳥圖)

early 1900s

Yang Ki-hun (Seuk-Eun) 양기훈

(Korean, 1843-1919?)

Hanging scroll, ink on silk

Overall: 103 x 112.4 cm (40 9/16 x 44 1/4 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1998.31


The plum’s status as the orthodox symbol of the literati’s pure spirit originated in Lin Bu’s poem "Tiny Plum Flowers in Mountain Garden." The plum was also widely depicted in Korean paintings as part of the Four Gentlemen—or Four Gracious Plants—motif. Here, the plum and bamboo express literati spirituality while the bird with its head pointing downward indicates the artist’s feelings about the unstable situation at the end of the Joseon period. Yang Kihun was a Korean scholar-official renowned for painting and calligraphy. He served as court painter to King Kojong (reigned 1863–1907), providing a number of compositions for the northern palace at Pyeongyang (North Korea’s modern-day capital).

See also
Korean Art
Type of artwork: 

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