I took the opportunity of having some free time whilst in Korea to visit the National Museum of Seoul over the weekend and was enthralled by its size, airiness and beautifully displayed items from both Korea and around all of Asia. There was a special exhibition of paintings by well known Polish Artists on display but I was so engrossed in the Korean paintings and artifacts that I had to forgo that one for another day.
I was however very excited when I stumbled upon a painting, 'Portrait of Song Siyeol' which was painted on silk in the 18th century. It was this portrait that I'd printed on to Hanji paper and put onto a box that was in my recent Hanji exhibition, so to see the painting up close was amazing.
This painting is considered to be one of the best portraits of Song Siyeol who lived from 1607 - 1689 and he was a dedicated follower of the orthodox Neo- Confucianist doctrine of Zhu Xi.There is more information about him if you follow this link.
In this half length portrait Song is wearing an outer robe (simu) and a black hat (bokgeon), which was the everyday attire of Confucian scholars. The inscription above his head includes an ode by King Jeongjo who lived from 1752 - 1800. and the year it was painted, which was 1778. This says that this particular painting is an 18th century copy of the original portrait. Even so, it's designated as the 239th National Treasure of Korea which shows the importance of it as a record of the history of Korea, and it's people.