Collection

Peony

  • Culture / Period

    Joseon Dynasty

  • Materials

    Paper

  • Dimensions

    145.0×58.0cm(Each panel, Folding screen)

  • Accession Number

    Bongwan 8165

List

Peonies, with their large flowers and brilliant colors, have long been regarded as the “king” among flowers, so they have often been used to symbolize royalty. In addition, they are sometimes called the “flower of wealth,” so they can also represent prosperity and nobility. Peonies were a frequent motif for artists in the early and mid-Joseon Dynasty, often being painted alongside birds and other plants. Late Joseon painters continued the tradition. In fact, the later artists placed even more emphasis on peonies than earlier paintings, often painting them without any accompanying birds or plants, and making their blossoms even fuller and more voluptuous. The peony paintings were typically executed either with ink washes (black ink) or ink and color washes. The Joseon royal court used a peony-themed folding screen during important royal rites and events, such as ancestral rituals, royal weddings, and rituals in the Royal Ancestral Shrine (Jongmyo, 宗廟). This expansive, ten-panel screen is filled with a continuous mix of vibrant peonies, evincing a magnificent yet dignified ambience. The colorful flowers and verdant leaves against a natural backdrop harmonize perfectly with the groups of uniquely shaped stones. This work provides us with an important glimpse of how peony folding screens developed during the Joseon Dynasty.

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