Ten–panel folding screen, ink and color on paper; each panel: 54 3/8 x 10 3/8 in. (138.1 x 26.4 cm)
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and John M. Crawford Jr. Bequest, 1993 (1993.255)
Paintings of birds and flowers have a long tradition in East Asian art. In Korea, folding screens depicting standard combinations of birds and flowers became especially prevalent in the nineteenth century. Carefully composed and meticulously detailed, the scenes in this colorful screen are characterized by heightened realism. Each of the ten panels portrays one or more pairs of birds resting on or flying around a blossoming plant, tree, or reeds. The symbolism of male-female pairing of birdsmandarin ducks, for example, are known to mate for lifemade these screens suitable decoration for the bridal chamber. Beyond domestic bliss, paintings of birds and flowers also embodied wishes for wealth, career advancement, longevity, and fecundity.