국립중앙박물관 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF KOREA

Highlights
Painting of a Ferocious Tiger
  • Culture/Period

    Joseon Dynasty

  • Materials

    Paper

  • Category

    Culture / Art - Letter & Paintings - Paintings - painting

  • Dimensions

    96.0×55.1cm(Image, Hanging scroll painting)

  • Accession Number

    M 67

Paintings of tigers were often used to ward off evil spirits, so tigers were regular subjects for Korean painters beginning in the early Joseon Dynasty. There is some question about the artist who painted this particular iconic tiger. The upper part of the painting bears the seal of Hyeonjae (玄齋), which was the pen name of Sim Sa-jeong (沈師正, 1707-1769), a representative painter of the 18th century Joseon Dynasty. Thus, the painting was previously attributed to Sim, but that view has since been strongly challenged, because the style of the calligraphy varies definitively from Sim’s. Most tiger paintings feature some background elements, such as pine trees, bamboo, or magpies, but this painting foregoes the background, so that the tiger fills the entire space. The tiger’s tail is curled in a distinctive S-shape, and it seems to be taking careful, but purposeful steps. These details, along with the fierce face and penetrating gaze of the tiger, convey a definitive sense of tension, but they also reveal the mastery of the artist. The minute details are painted with fine brushes, a trademark of animal paintings of the late Joseon Dynasty. In the upper right hand corner, someone has added a satirical seven-character poem that accords well with the painting.