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Scholar Contemplating a Cascade

Asian Art

The sixteenth-century ink-wash painting, a type rarely found outside Korean collections, uses strong, deliberate brushwork to convey ideas of space and perspective. Yi Chong, a Buddhist monk who came from a renowned family of artists, was a respected court painted during his short life. His work was heavily influenced by the Chinese tradition of the scholar-artist. The style of this painting invokes the Zhe School of Ming dynasty China, and the subject alludes to a poem by the Chinese poet Li Bo (701–762) concerning the beauty of a waterfall.

ATTRIBUTED TO Yi Chong, 1578-1607
MEDIUM Ink on silk
  • Place Made: Korea
  • DATES 16th century
    DYNASTY Joseon Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS Image: 11 1/4 x 10 7/8in. (28.6 x 27.6cm) Overall: 45 x 16 1/4 in. (114.3 x 41.3 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 75.130
    CREDIT LINE Designated Purchase Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION Yi Chong (1578-1607). Scholar Contemplating a Cascade, 16th century. Ink on silk, Image: 11 1/4 x 10 7/8in. (28.6 x 27.6cm). Brooklyn Museum, Designated Purchase Fund, 75.130
    IMAGE overall, 75.130_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Album leaf mounted as a hanging scroll. The scholar, wearing a white robe with long, pendant sleeves reclining, propped up on one elbow, on an earth outcropping beside an "S" curved torrent. A rugged, vertical cliff rises at the left with a knarled old pine tree clinging to its surface; the lower branches reach down toward the scholar. Mounting of light blue brocade with a tan peony pattern, upper and lower sections of cream-colored satin. The seal in the upper left corner reads: "To Chung-kyon In." This is not a known art name of Yi Chong. The placement of the seal suggests that it was added later. Korean ink-wash paintings of the 16th century are extremely rare outside major museums in Korea. Only a handful have reached the West, usually by way of Japanese collections. Most of these have been misidentified as Chinese, since they follow Chinese models quite closely. Recently the Japanese scholar Shimada Shujiro has been active in reattributing many of them to Korea. This painting follows the style of the Imperial Painting Academy of Southern Sung Dynasty China (1127-1279). The supposed artist of this painting, Yi Chong, was the grandson of a slave in the household of a scholar-official who developed such artistic skill that the king appointed him to the Bureau of Painting. By the age of ten Yi Chong had become a competent landscape painter and was also skilled at figure subjects. When he was eleven he decided to become a Buddhist monk and joined a monastery in the Diamond Mountains, but continued to paint throughout his short life. Known for his independent manner, he painted only when and what he wanted to and turned down commissions from powerful persons if they did not suit him. Ivory roller ends. Wooden storage box. From "Korean Art Collection in the Brooklyn Museum" catalogue: This type of figure in a landscape, painted in the Chinese Zhe School style, was popular in the mid-Joseon dynasty. On the large rock by the stream and beneath the pine tree dangling from the cliff is seated a scholar in a relaxed pose, watching the stream. An intaglio seal with a four-character phrase representing the lofty mind of a recluse, "the hill inside the bosom" is pressed on the upper left corner of the painting. Yi Jeong was a famous court painter from a renowned painters' family. Although he died very young, he mastered his family tradition and the Zhe School style of painting. This painting suggests the strong influence of the contemporary master of the Zhe School style in landscape painting, Yi, Gyeong-yun.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (84%)
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