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National Palace Museum displays Joseon's last royal painting

National Palace Museum displays Joseon's last royal painting

Posted December. 13, 2017 08:26,   

Updated December. 13, 2017 08:49


The last royal paintings that stage the declining Joseon Dynasty during the Japanese colonial rule has been displayed for the first time.

The National Palace Museum of Korea will be displaying two wall paintings at Huijeongdang, Changdeok Palace by Kim Kyu-jin (1868-1933) from Wednesday. The two paintings, which went through conservation from 2015 to 2016, have never been opened for the public up until now.

The wall paintings, which are 8.8 meters in width and 1.9 meters in height, are master pieces that illustrate the magnificent view of Mt. Geumkang. Kim Kyu-jin created the artworks when Japan reconstructed the royal palace after the 1917 fire at Changdeok Palace. It was the first time during the Joseon Dynasty to draw a royal painting of Mt. Geumkang. Joseon artists depicted beautiful nature of the mountain in their artworks.

Huijeongdang was originally used as king’s office during the Joseon Dynasty but it was used as the reception room of King Soonjong after the fall of Joseon. The two wall paintings were installed on top of the two doors of Huijeongdang, which is two meters high from the floor.

The Japanese authorities reconstructed the royal palace of Changdeok Palace by reusing materials that were acquired during the process of knocking down the royal palace of Gyeongbok Palace, whose exterior was remodeled in a traditional way and whose furniture and interior were decorated with Western touches.

The wall paintings in the palace were a completely new style that has never been tried before. Traditionally, royal decoration of the Joseon Dynasty was mostly drawings on doors and windows or on folding screens. The wall paintings of Mt. Geumkang by Kim Kyu-jin distinctively differ from previous royal drawings in that they have titles and the artist’s signature on them, not to mention the touch of modern painting style. The special exhibition will be held until March 4, 2018.

Sang-Un Kim sukim@donga.com