Yi Yuwon (Korean, 18141888)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper; 58 1/16 x 37 3/16 in. (147.5 x 94.5 cm)
Purchase, Seymour and Rogers Funds and Bequest of Dorothy Graham Bennett, 1990(1990.230)
Yi Yuwon, a revered scholar-official of the Joseon period who excelled in both painting and calligraphy, served as prime minister in 1873 under King Gojong (r. 18641907). As a calligrapher, he was especially known for his clerical script.
The flowering plum, one of the most enduring and pervasive images in East Asian art, was a favorite subject of literati painters in China, Korea, and Japan. In Korea, even more than its neighboring cultures, depictions of plum blossoms usually took the form of ink monochrome painting. Together with the bamboo, orchid, and chrysanthemum, it formed the Four Gentlemen, originally representing the four seasons but which came to symbolize the virtues of the Confucian scholar.