Whose beard and eyebrows are all grey?
Wearing an official hat and plain clothes,
His mind remains in obscurity
Though his name is on the Court
Who would know that this man cherishes thousands of books in the heart
With the power of his brush shaking the five famous mountains?
I enjoy by myself
The old man is 70 years old and his pen name is Nojuk (露竹, meaning dew and bamboo).
He draws his own portrait and writes a legend over his picture.
It's drawn in the seventh year of King Jeongjo's reign (1782).
|“Self-portrait,” 1782 (courtesy of the National Museum of Korea).|
The National Museum of Korea has been holding a special exhibition titled “A Painter’s Life: Kang Se-hwang and Literati Culture in the 18th Century” since June 25 to mark the 300th birthday of the well-known painter and literary artist of the late Joseon era. This ongoing exhibition showcases a total of 103 pieces to introduce the extraordinary life of Kang Se-hwang, his art world, family and background, and artworks of other popular Joseon painters which have Kang’s written reviews. Among the displayed works, some paintings are especially interesting -- “Scenes in Buan Prefecture” and “Portrait of Kang Se-hwang” drawn by court painter Han Jong-yu (1737-?) -- as these are open to the public for the first time in Korea.
Not many people have Kang Se-hwang in mind when thinking of popular Joseon painters. They would rather think of Kim Hong-do (1745-c. 1806), Shin Yun-bok (born 1758-?), or Jang Seung-eop (1843-1897). Others would also think of Yun Du-seo (1668-1715), Jeong Seon, (1676-1759), or Sim Sa-jeong (1707-1769) as leading Joseon artists. All of these painters, however, wanted to have Kang’s reviews on their works, highly valuing Kang's critiques and artistic insight. Kang was the teacher of Kim Hong-do, commonly known as the first Joseon painter who portrayed daily life. As a leading literary artist, he had a wide range of contacts with many artists as well as writers, establishing his own art world by encompassing poetry, calligraphy, painting, and critiques.
|Kang Se-hwang painted “Taejong Terrace Album of Journey of Songdo” (1757) when he traveled the area (now known as Gaeseong), introducing Western-style painting techniques like shading and perspective (courtesy of the National Museum of Korea).|
In the third section “The Ideals and Dreams of Literati,” Kang’s paintings, calligraphy, and writings are exhibited to show the scope of his artistic activity through a broad network of various groups of people from different ranks and classes. The fourth section “Travel and Sketching for Nature” shows Kang’s pieces he drew when traveling. Some of the noticeable paintings in this section include “Taejong Terrace Album of Journey of Songdo” and “Scenes in Buan Prefecture.”
|“Orchid and Bamboo,” 1790 (courtesy of the National Museum of Korea).|
|“Butterflies,” Kim Hong-do, 1782 (courtesy of the National Museum of Korea)|