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Stories and Images in East Asian Art

March 12, 2009–February 24, 2010

Most auspicious symbols originated in China and became common denominators throughout East Asia, while the individual adaptation of such elements varied in each culture. By the late Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910) of Korea, themes such as wishes for longevity, wealth, and fecundity gained popularity as subjects for screen paintings, whereas in China, similar themes appeared most often in ceramic decorations.

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Drawn from the Museum's collection, this two-part exhibition features Korean screen paintings with propitious Chinese narratives such as the General Guo Ziyi's Banquet and the Hundred Children. They are juxtaposed with Chinese ceramics of the Qing dynasty (1616–1912) which are decorated with similar motifs. This cross-cultural display provides an opportunity to trace the transmission and modification of art themes between two neighboring cultures. In the second part of the exhibition, Chinese ceramics decorated with narrative images of popular novels and legends are being shown in an adjacent gallery. With a growing demand for representation of scenes from various stories, printed book illustrations became a new source for ceramic decoration during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and through the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Such a practice shows a lively exchange between the two art mediums.

Main Building


Hyunsoo Woo • Associate Curator of Korean Art
Minkyung Ji • East Asian Art Volunteer, University of Pennsylvania

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