Hanging scroll, ink on silk
Image: 101 x 47 cm (39 3/4 x 18 1/2 in.); Overall: 176.5 x 73 cm (69 1/2 x 28 3/4 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1999.43
In Korean art tradition, grapes symbolize the blessing of many children.
The grape was imported into East Asia from the West via the Silk Road. In Korea, making wine from the fruit became popular after the Chinese Yuan emperor presented grape wine to the Goryeo king Chungryeol (1236–1308). Court scholar Yi Saek accompanied Chungryeol to the Yuan court and wrote of the beverage in his poems: "Grape wine was prepared at parties every day." In the early Joseon period, grape ink paintings were a favorite among the high-class elites. The common classes in Korea and Japan, however, did not have many opportunities to enjoy grape wine until the 20th century. Thus, for them, grape paintings symbolized fertility and expressed the wish to have many children—like bunches of grapes.
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