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Journal of Korean Art and Archaeology Vol. 16
Broadening the Understanding of Sixteenth-Century Korean Real Scenery Landscape Paintings: Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion
Lee Soomi

Gwangju National Museum

Journal of Korean Art & Archaeology 2022, Vol.16 pp.77-95

DOI : https://doi.org/10.23158/jkaa.2022.v16_06

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ⓒ 2022 National Museum of Korea, All rights reserved.

Introduction

Sixteenth-century paintings show a gradual progression from the painting style formed in the early Joseon period (1392–ca. 1550) to the painting style of the mid-Joseon period (ca. 1550–ca. 1700).1 In the sixteenth century, the painting style of An Gyeon (active in the fifteenth century), a canonical court painter of the early Joseon period, had a dominant presence, as a new painting style, which fully developed in the seventeenth century, was introduced as well.

The paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion, which are introduced in this paper, bear a colophon showing that they were produced as part of a folding screen painted based on a trip to the Gwandong region in 1557 (Figs. 12). These paintings, therefore, serve as groundbreaking material to broaden the understanding of the sixteenth-century real scenery landscape painting.2

All of the existing works mentioned as examples of sixteenth-century real scenery landscape painting show only partial elements of real scenery landscape painting since they were created as depictions of notable social gatherings, or as a documentary painting for practical and/or official purposes. However, a primary objective of the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion was to portray the everchanging nature and striking beauty of the real-life scenery. These two paintings differ from other real scenery landscape paintings produced in the early and mid-Joseon periods in characteristics and appearance. They bear great significance because they were produced only for the simple appreciation of nature.

The Production Background of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion through the Colophon and Poems

Currently, both paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion are mounted in the same format as hanging scrolls. Chongseokjeong Pavilion, in particular, bears a colophon recording its production background (Fig. 3). I will first examine this colophon since it will be a core starting point for understanding the Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion paintings.

余丁巳春, 與洪君德遠, 約爲關東之遊, 遍觀楓岳 嶺東勝區, 其峯巒之峻秀, 溪壑之深邃, 雲嵐之 變態, 湖海之汪洋, 皆入於遊山錄, 時或披覽, 第以塵 緣在躬, 祿食東華, 泉石眞面目, 徒勞夢想而已. 每見 古人, 雲臥溪山, 不接世事者, 其高卓乎不可及矣. 遂繪畫 若干名勝地爲屛風, 因抄出昔年遊觀時賦詩七(八)絶, 書其 後, 以慰余不得更往而拘攣未解之懷耳. 商山逸老志.

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Fig. 1. Gyeongpodae Pavilion. Joseon, late 16th century. Ink and light color on silk. 102.0 x 55.0 cm. National Museum of Korea

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Fig. 2. Chongseokjeong Pavilion. Joseon, late 16th century. Ink and light color on silk. 100.0 × 54.0 cm. National Museum of Korea

In the spring of the Jeongsa Year, I promised Honggun Deokwon to go on a sightseeing trip to the Gwandong region. He and I were able to enjoy magnificent scenery throughout the Geumgangsan Mountain region and the east of Daegwallyeong Pass. In my travelogue Yusanrok, I wrote about the towering and exceptional mountain peaks and ridges, deep and quietly secluded valleys, clouds and haze in all kinds of forms and figures, and surging waves of lakes and seas in the distance. Sometimes, I unfolded and read it. However, as my body is tied to the secular world and I hold a post, I bring the true character of nature to mind only in my dreams. Whenever I saw old people from the past, lying like a cloud in mountains and streams and not intervening in mundane matters, their loftiness and excellence were beyond my reach. I finally painted (or had a painter paint) several scenic spots and turned these paintings into a folding screen. By adding to the folding screen heptasyllabic quatrains that I composed while traveling in the past, I am only soothing my hopeless longing for [Gwandong region] as I cannot go there again. Sangsan Ilro wrote this.

This colophon contains many clues about the production date and background of the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion. Particularly, it enables us to make assumptions about the two figures who traveled to the Gwandong region.

The first figure to examine is Honggun Deokwon (洪君德遠). This figure is likely Hong Yeon (洪淵). His courtesy name is written as Deokwon (德源) in the “List of the Names of the Candidates Who Passed the Classics and Literary Licentiate Examination on the Ninth Month of the Byeongo Year during the Twenty-fifth Year of the Reign of Emperor Jiajing” (1546) and as Deokwon (德遠) in Gukjo bangmok (Roster of Examination Graduates). This indicates that Hong Yeon used both “源” and “遠” characters for his name. As will be discussed later, assuming that Hong Yeon was active in the mid- and late sixteenth century, the painting style of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion also corresponds to that of the mid- and late sixteenth century. Accordingly, the Jeongsa year when Hong Yeon traveled, as written in the colophon, might refer to 1557.

The second figure in question is Sangsan Ilro (商山逸老), who wrote this colophon. The colophon is preceded by a seal that reads “Sangsan Gaebu” (商山開府) (H. 4.2 × W. 1.4 centimeters), and at the end of the colophon are two square seals with inscriptions in relief, “Unjeongjisa” (雲情/之思) (H. 2.5 × W. 2.5 centimeters) and “Namae Cheosa” (南崖/處士) (H. 2.6 × W. 2.6 centimeters) (Figs. 4-1 and 4-2). These seals offer vital clues about who Sangsan Ilro was. In particular, the seal bearing the inscription “Namae Cheosa” suggests that the figure who used “Namae” as a sobriquet in the sixteenth century is Park Chung-gan (朴忠侃, ?–1601). Park Chung-gan became a secretary of the Ministry of Taxation (戶曹 正郞, K. Hojo Jeongnang) in 1584 (the seventeenth year of the reign of King Seonjo). While serving as a magistrate of Jaeryeong County in 1589, he exposed Jeong Yeo-rip’s conspiracy against the king, along with Han Jun, Yi Chuk, and Han Eung-in. In recognition of this meritorious deed, Park Chung-gan was promoted to the position of Vice Minister of the Ministry of Punishments (刑曹 參判, K. Hyeongjo Champan). He was also appointed as a first-grade Pyeongnan Gongsin (平難功臣, Meritorious Subject Who Rendered Distinguished Services in Suppressing Rebellions) and given the honorific title of Sangsan-gun (商山君).

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Fig. 3. Colophon in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2)

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Figs. 4. Seals from the colophon in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 3): 1) “Sangsan Gaebu,” 2) “Unjeongjisa” and “Namae Cheosa”

The colophon on the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion provides the following information:

  • 1) In the spring of 1557, Park Chung-gan, the author of the colophon, traveled to Geumgangsan Mountain and the Gwandong region in the company of Hong Yeon.

  • 2) After his travel, Park Chung-gan wrote the travelogue Yusanrok.

  • 3) Park Chung-gan is presumed to have held a post in Seoul (祿食東華).

  • 4) Park Chung-gan painted (or had a painter paint) several scenic spots and mounted them on a folding screen (遂繪畫若干名勝地爲屛風). However, this phrase does not clarify whether Park Chung-gan himself painted them or had a painter paint them.

  • 5) Park Chung-gan wrote a selection of heptasyllabic quatrains that he composed during his travel on the paintings. The Chinese character “八” (eight) following “七” (heptasyllabic quatrain) can be interpreted as eight heptasyllabic quatrains, which indicates these poems were written on the eight-panel folding screen.

  • 6) As written in the colophon, Park Chung-gan called himself “商山逸老,” namely “an old man.” Assuming that Park was over fifty years old, the age that he could call himself an old man, when he wrote this colophon, the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion appear to have been produced after 1571, thirty years before 1601 (the year of his death in his eighties).

  • 7) In the seal reading “Namae Cheosa” (南崖/處士), cheosa refers to a scholar who holds no government post and lives in seclusion. Considering that Park Chung-gan wrote this colophon while serving as an official, the word “cheosa” does not fit with his status as a Pyeongnan Gongsin. Thus, it is highly probable that Park stamped the seal “Namae Cheosa” before 1590 when he was appointed as a Pyeongnan Gongsin. Another seal reading “Sangsan Gaebu” (商山開府), which means his appointment as a Pyeongnan Gongsin, seems to have been added to the beginning of the colophon after 1590. It is thought to have been stamped at a different time than the two square seals at the end of the colophon.

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Fig. 5. Poem in Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 6. Poem in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2)

To summarize, Sangsan Ilro, identified as Park Chunggan, went on a sightseeing trip to Geumgangsan Mountain (also known as Pungaksan Mountain) and the Gwandong region with Hong Yeon in the spring of 1557. He wrote Yusanrok, and several years later painted—or had a painter paint—several scenic spots of Geumgangsan Mountain and the Gwandong region, which he mounted on a folding screen. Hong Yeon passed the civil service examination held on a special occasion in 1551 and lived until 1584. Based on the colophon, the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion are presumed to have been produced around the latter half of the sixteenth century after Park traveled in 1557 and after 1571 when Park was over fifty and became an old man. The painting style found in the trees, mountains, and streams also corresponds to the painting style of the late sixteenth century, as will be discussed later.

Besides the colophon, each of these paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion bears a heptasyllabic quatrain as follows:

Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 5)

百頃澄潭徹底淸

好看天影倒空明

嵓奇樹老四千嶂

波映長橋見客行

As a hundred acres of the pool of water is thoroughly clear,

It is nice to see the reflection of the sky’s shadow on the water.

Bizarre-looking rocks and old trees surround four thousand peaks,

And I see a visitor going [by crossing] a long bridge reflected in the waves.

Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 6)

叢石奇奇造化工

此間神妙問崆峒

從來物像人難測

漫向滄溟引晩風

The Creator has crafted oddly-shaped rock clusters.

I ask if these mystical rock clusters are a mountain where Daoist immortals are living together.

Their former shapes are unpredictable by human effort.

[Standing] crammed towards a large sea, rock clusters face an evening breeze.

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Fig. 7. Detail (upper section) of Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 8. Detail (lower section) of Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

Both poems show Chinese characters larger than those in the colophon (Fig. 3) but demonstrate consistency with the colophon in the use of an unrestrained calligraphic style. To the right of the poem on the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion is an inscription which reads “Tongcheon Chongseokjeong” (通川叢石亭, Chongseokjeong Pavilion in Tongcheon) and is carefully written in a regular script (Fig. 6). The calligraphic style in this inscription indicating the theme of the painting differs from the unrestrained calligraphic style in the colophon and poems. It shares affinities with the calligraphic style used to designate the names of natural features and scenic spots depicted in paintings. Based on the calligraphic styles, two people engaged in writing the inscriptions: one person for the colophon and poems, and the other for “Chongseokjeong Pavilion in Tongcheon” and the names of natural features and scenic spots. Since Sangsan Ilro, probably Park Chung-gan, wrote the colophon and poems, the rest appears to have been written by the second person. The second person is believed to be the painter who created these two paintings. As mentioned above, the colophon fails to clarify if Park Chung-gan himself produced these paintings or if he ordered a painter to do so. However, given the discrepancy in calligraphic styles, Park is presumed to have had a painter produce the paintings. The quality of the paintings also suggests it is diffcult to think that the civil offcial Park Chung-gan was skillful enough to create them.

Composition of Natural Features and Scenic Spots

Gyeongpodae Pavilion

The contents of the colophon discussed earlier indicate that the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion were parts of a folding screen. The Chongseokjeong Pavilion painting bearing the colophon is considered the last panel of the folding screen. In the case of Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting, the upper left section of its vertically long picture plane bears a heptasyllabic quatrain. There is an oval-shaped Gyeongpoho Lake surrounded by various natural features and buildings in the middle of the painting (Fig. 1). The front view of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion with a hipped-and-gabled roof and three frontal bays is depicted against a backdrop of mountains (Fig. 7). The columns painted in red catch a viewer’s eye. The pavilion stands above a single-tier stone foundation with stairs in the middle. Its decorative roof-end tiles, figurines called japsang, and brackets are illustrated in detail and colored in green and red. While columns are shown, no doors or walls are described. On the left of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion, two buildings, each with a hipped-and-gabled roof, three frontal bays, and red columns, are placed in a T shape. Since these two buildings are smaller and stand on a lower foundation than the Gyeongpodae Pavilion, they are inferior to the pavilion.

According to the records, buildings within the precinct of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion were erected in 1326, but the main building was destroyed by fire in 1524. The main building was restored before 1530 and subsequently underwent several repairs. In 1628, a full-scale remodeling project to remove the lodging facilities affiliated with the Gyeongpodae Pavilion was conducted. Since the depiction of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion in this painting features the actual building that existed in and after 1557, this painting offers the earliest powerful testimony to verifying a visual image of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion, which is otherwise only imagined through records.

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Fig. 9. Saseonbong Peak in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2)

In the lower section of the painting, the names of natural features and scenic spots are written in ink, including, from right to left, Baeksaori Sandy Beach (白沙五里), Gangmungyo Bridge (江門橋), Cheongchoju Sandbank (靑草洲), Jukdo Island (竹島), and the Chodang House (草堂) (Fig. 8). These names help viewers recognize natural features and scenic spots. Along the long sandy beach where the inscription of “Baeksaori” is written on the far right, layers of pine trees are standing. On the left of the Baeksaori Sandy Beach is a sandbank on which green grasses grow in the shallow waters of Gyeongpoho Lake. “Cheongchoju” is also inscribed over the sandbank. Below the Cheongchoju Sandbank is Jukdo Island full of overgrown bamboo trees and Gangmungyo Bridge. The Gangmungyo Bridge, made of wooden boards, is located at the exit where the Gyeongpoho Lake water streams back to the sea.

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Fig. 10. Saseonjeong Pavilion and uninscribed stele in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2)

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Fig. 11. Protruding hill in Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 12. Detail of Landscape with the Eulogy by Hakpo. Joseon, early 16th century. Ink on paper. National Museum of Korea

On the lower left of the painting is a roof tile house, with the inscription “Chodang” (草堂). The Chodang is a sobriquet of Heo Yeop (許曄, 1517–1580), and Heo Yeop is the father of Heo Bong (許篈, 1551–1588), who is related to the traveler Hong Yeon. This building appears to have depicted a house where Heo Yeop lived. It has a hipped-and-gabled roof, decorative roof-end tiles, and roof figurines, but it is a simple roof tile house standing on a low foundation, equipped with two bays and a vertical lattice-worked window on the side.

Chongseokjeong Pavilion

According to the poem “Matching Rhymes from the Poem on Chongseokjeong Pavilion” (次叢石亭詩韻) in the first volume of Geunjaejip (謹齋集, Collected Works of Geunjae) written by An Chuk (安軸, 1282–1348) about the Chongseokjeong Pavilion, overhanging cliffs and oblong rocks are standing in a row like square pillars. It also states that these angular and flat cliffs and rocks standing straight appear similar in size as if they are sculpted using an inking line. In An Chuk’s poem, the four stone pillars standing while being separated from each other are called Saseonbong Peak (四仙峯), and Saseonbong is described as dozens of oblong rocks that form a peak. Corresponding to this description, the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2) depicts four bundles of stone pillars and shows an inscription “Saseonbong” atop the pillars on the far left (Fig. 9). In this painting, natural features are arranged at three distances to create a sense of space among such gigantic stone pillars. The foreground shows low stone pillars, and in the middle-ground massive stone pillars of Saseonbong that form a triangle are depicted. A sense of distance across the natural features is produced by portraying seawater flowing in front and in back of low stone pillars in the foreground and water waves between tall stone pillars in the middle ground. In the background is a sloping road, which is illustrated by a diagonal line descending from the Saseonjeong Pavilion (四仙亭) on the left mountaintop towards the pillars.

“Dongyugi” (東遊記, Journey to the East) in the fifth volume of Gajeongjip (稼亭集, Collected Works of Gajeong) by Yi Gok (李穀, 1298–1351) mentions a stele whose surface has chipped off and has been worn out to the extent that even a single word is illegible. The painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 10) exhibits a stele matching such description. Here, the stele bears no inscription on its surface, and “moljabi” (沒字碑, uninscribed stele) is written in ink above the stele. Next to the stele, a straw-thatched hut with the inscription of “Saseonjeong” (四仙亭, Saseonjeong Pavilion) instead of “Chongseokjeong” is depicted. The inclusion of the hut is noteworthy in that the straw-thatched hut with the inscription of “Saseonjeong” in the scene depicting the area of the Chongseokjeong Pavilion appears only in this painting.

The Formation of Composition and the Changes in Composition after the Eighteenth Century

Gyeongpodae Pavilion

The composition of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting relates to that of early Joseon landscape paintings. In the middle left section of the painting is a protruding hill where two people are conversing with one another (Fig. 11). Such a spatial element does not exist in the actual landscape of Gyeongpoho Lake and cannot be found in other paintings of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion produced later than this example. This compositional element originated from an asymmetrical arrangement of early Joseon landscape paintings, including the Landscape with the Eulogy by Hakpo (Fig. 12), which places natural features on one side and a hill in the foreground and middle ground. The Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting (Fig. 1), however, presents a diversification of composition and perspective by emphasizing real-scenery elements and expanding them to a wider area. As a case in point, an overall view of Gyeongpoho Lake is successfully illustrated by depicting the distant mountain in the upper section in bilateral symmetry and the oval-shaped Gyeongpoho Lake against the symmetrical background through a bird’s-eye view perspective. Unlike early Joseon landscape paintings in which lakes or rivers flow horizontally or are placed asymmetrically, the Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting displays a rather inclusive and expanded composition.

The texture strokes used in the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion are reminiscent of those used by the traditional painting school of An Gyeon. For example, in the case of the hill in the lower left section of the painting (Fig. 13-1), it is first outlined with brushstrokes of greatly varying thickness, then layers of brushstrokes are applied to the surfaces of the hill in order to create a three-dimensional effect, and protruding blocks of rocks are portrayed in dark ink. This Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting, however, shows the transformation in texture strokes of the An Gyeon painting school. In depicting the Jukdo Island (Fig. 13-2), cloud-head strokes are gradually flattened and turned into angled shell shapes. Tooth-shaped projections outside of the contour lines of the mountains, which are characteristic of the An Gyeon painting school, change into rock shapes with no dots.

In addition to the changes in traditional texturing techniques, the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion indicates a reflection of the real scenery of the Odaesan Mountain in Gangwon-do Province, as illustrated by the triangular mountains in the background (Fig. 15). Dots usually placed over the outlines of mountains in early sixteenth-century landscape paintings (Fig. 14) become more stabilized in this painting. The shape of the mountains and the use of dots above them are similar to those in the painting of Arrival of Ming Envoys at Uisungwan Guesthouse from 1572 (Fig. 16). Texture strokes of short lines and dots, which are often found in sixteenth-century paintings by the An Gyeon school, turn into layers of long, slender lines to add a three-dimensional effect.

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Figs. 13-1 and 13-2. Details of Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 14. Detail of Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers. Joseon, early 16th century. Ink on silk. 35.8 × 28.5 cm. National Museum of Korea

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Fig. 15. Triangular mountains in Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

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Fig. 16. Detail of Arrival of Ming Envoys at Uisungwan Guesthouse. Joseon, after 1572. Light color on silk. 46.5 × 38.5 cm. Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies

Pine trees standing in a row on the sandy beach and rocky that the islands vertically connected in the middle of Gyeongpoho Lake are depicted by using angular, oblique lines with a bird’s-eye view perspective (Figs. 17-1 and 17-2). As a result, a vista with continuously overlapping natural features unfolds in this painting. This painting employs multiple perspectives to effectively depict a wide area of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Gyeonpoho Lake. The Gyeongpodae Pavilion is illustrated from a frontal perspective, and the haze between the pavilion and the distant mountains makes the pavilion stand out (Fig. 7). A diagonal, bird’s-eye view perspective is also used for the natural depiction of the relations between innate features and the characteristics of scenic spots.

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Figs. 17-1 and 17-2. Details of Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 1)

Red color is applied to both the Gyeongpodae Pavilion in the upper section of the painting and the Chodang House in the lower section (Fig. 1). These two buildings are vertically in alignment with one another. A comparison between such composition and arrangement of building features in this sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and that of composition in other later paintings of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion shows an intriguing change. Case in point, there is the “Gyeongpodae Pavilion” from the Album of the Ten Scenic Spots in Gwandong Region (1746–1748) (Fig. 18), which was considered the earliest Gyeongpodae Pavilion painting before the release of the sixteenth-century example. The biggest difference between the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and the “Gyeongpodae Pavilion” leaf is that the Gyeongpodae Pavilion buildings depicted in the upper portion of the painting are moved to the lower section of the leaf. In the latter, a scene of sunrise unfolds in the background, and Jukdo Island, which is located in the lower section of the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion, is observed in the middle ground. The tile-roofed house on the hill in the middle-right section is thought to be the Chodang House, a house of Heo Yeop. Here, the Gyeongpodae Pavilion buildings and Jukdo Island are the focal points. The placement of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion buildings facing the sea in the lower section of the picture plane consequently aligns the buildings, Jukdo Island, and the East Sea. Such placement continued to be used in the “Gyeongpodae Pavilion” from the Album of Famous Mountains of Korea (after 1788) (Fig. 19) by Kim Hongdo (金弘道, 1745–after 1806). This placement became a popular convention in other paintings of the Gyeongpodae Pavilion produced in subsequent periods.

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Fig. 18. “Gyeongpodae Pavilion” from the Album of the Ten Scenic Spots in Gwandong Region. Joseon, 1746–1748. Color on silk. 31.5 × 22.5 cm. Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies

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Fig. 19. “Gyeongpodae Pavilion” from the Album of Famous Mountains of Korea by Kim Hongdo. Joseon, after 1788. Ink on paper. 30.5 × 43.0 cm. National Museum of Korea

However, it is noteworthy that the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung (Fig. 20-1) in the folk painting style maintains the arrangement of the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion. The painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung produced at the end of the Joseon Dynasty depicts not only Gyeongpoho Lake but the Hohaejeong Pavilion (湖海亭) and the lake in front of the pavilion in the right section of the picture plane. Natural features and scenic spots are inscribed with their names, which helps determine their locations. For example, from top to bottom, the inscriptions written on the hill stretching to the middle of the lake include the Maehakjeong Pavilion (梅鶴亭), the Banghaejeong Pavilion (放海亭), and Hongjangam Rock (紅粧巖) (Fig. 20-2). Joam Rock (鳥巖) is also spotted across the water. This hill where the Maehakjeong Pavilion, the Banghaejeong Pavilion, and Hongjangam Rock are marked corresponds to the rocky islands vertically connected in the middle of Gyeongpoho Lake in the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion (Fig. 17-2). While the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion illustrates only one roof-tiled house of Chodang, this folk painting shows a village of houses centering around the Chodang. Unlike the former, the latter adds the depiction of the nearby region of the Hohaejeong Pavilion on the right. Nevertheless, the latter follows the composition of the former by placing the Gyeongpodae Pavilion in the upper section of the picture plane and Gyeongpoho Lake in the lower section.

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Figs. 20-1 and 20-2. Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung and its detail. 19th century. 91.0 × 61.0 cm. National Museum of Korea

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Figs. 21. Compositional changes in the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion: 1) late 16th century, 2) 1746–1748, 3) after 1788 (by Kim Hongdo), 4) 19th century (Markings by the author)

An examination of the compositions in the Gyeongpodae Pavilion paintings (Figs. 21) reveals that the composition shared by the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung changed in and after the eighteenth century. A new composition that placed the Gyeongpodae Pavilion buildings in the lower section of the picture planes and made them head toward the sea in the upper section emerged. Accordingly, the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung is an important example that shows the composition in the sixteenth-century painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion was transmitted to folk painting circles.

Chongseokjeong Pavilion

Unlike the painting of Gyeongpodae Pavilion that demonstrates links to traditional compositions and texture techniques in early Joseon landscape painting, the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2) features very dramatic arrangement and expression modes. With the highest stone pillars in the center of the painting, layers of stone pillars that occupy most of the picture plane form a triangle. Such a central axis is rarely seen in existing early Joseon paintings. A similar, symmetrical composition positioning the main mountain in the center of the painting can be observed in other landscape paintings, including The Gathering at the Dokseodang Hall (ca. 1531, private collection in Japan), The Gathering of the Inspectors at the Office of the Censorate (1591, Naju National Museum), and The Gathering of the Elders Born in the Sinhae Year (1622, National Museum of Korea). However, such a composition seems to be seldom used compared to the asymmetrical composition which was popular at the time.

In the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion, Saseonbong Peak has a dominant presence in the middle ground. Vertical stone pillars of the peak are depicted as segmented and flat, yet they fail to create a three-dimensional and natural sense of space. However, the whitened lower part and the darkened upper part of each pillar heighten a sense of looking up at a mountain from below. To amplify this effect, a thin layer of white color is added to each stone pillar (Fig. 22). As for the texture technique used to describe each stone pillar, light ink is applied to the pillar surface and the fine lines in dark ink are drawn to portray the texture and cleavages of rock clusters. The strokes are made by pressing the tip of a brush at an oblique angle and pulling it down vertically, showing early stage aspects of the technique of ax-cut brushstrokes (斧劈皴). The contrast between black and white and the use of vertical texture strokes hint at the future popularity of the Zhe painting style in the following periods.

jkaa-16-77-f022.tif

Fig. 22. Detail of Saseonbong Peak in Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2)

The composition and arrangement of paintings produced after this sixteenth-century painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2) radically changed. In “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Pungaksan Mountain in the Sinmyo Year (1711) (Fig. 23) by Jeong Seon (鄭敾, 1676–1759), Saseonbong Peak, which occupies most of the picture plane in the sixteenth-century Chongseokjeong Pavilion painting (Fig. 2), is reduced to a scale similar to that of the cliff on which the Chongseokjeong Pavilion is situated. Moreover, the East Sea takes up a large proportion of the upper section of the picture plane. Another compositional change can be found in viewing Saseonbong Peak and the Chongseokjeong Pavilion. The sixteenthcentury painting (Fig. 2) depicts Saseonbong Peak and the Chongseokjeong Pavilion as seen from the East Sea, whereas Jeong Seon’s painting (Fig. 23) illustrates them as seen from the inland side. Similarly, in the “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of the Ten Scenic Spots in Gwandong Region (Fig. 24), Saseonbong Peak is downscaled even further and depicted smaller than the cliff on which the Chongseokjeong Pavilion is located. It emerges as part of the scenery to draw attention to the Chongseokjeong Pavilion on the cliff rather than Saseonbong Peak. The “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Famous Mountains of Korea (Fig. 25) by Kim Hongdo places the Chongseokjeong Pavilion on the cliff in the right section of the picture plane and the Saseonbong Peak of similar height to the cliff in the left section in order to emphasize the peak’s majesty. While the first two “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” album-leaf paintings (Figs. 2324) show the Saseonbong Peak situated in between the Chongseokjeong Pavilion and the Hwanseonjeong Pavilion (喚仙亭 or 奐仙亭), the “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” in Kim Hongdo’s painting album (Fig. 25) omits the Hwanseonjeong Pavilion on the left. This compositional change in the Chongseokjeong Pavilion paintings indicates that the focal point moved from rock clusters with the Saseonbong Peak at the center to the whole scenery, including the sea.

jkaa-16-77-f023.tif

Fig. 23. “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Pungaksan Mountain in the Sinmyo Year by Jeong Seon. Joseon, 1711. 38.3 × 37.5 cm. National Museum of Korea

jkaa-16-77-f024.tif

Fig. 24. “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of the Ten Scenic Spots in Gwandong Region. Joseon, 1746–1748. Color on silk. 31.5 × 22.5 cm. Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies

jkaa-16-77-f025.tif

Fig. 25. “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Famous Mountains of Korea by Kim Hongdo. Joseon, after 1788. Ink on paper. 30.5 × 43.0 cm. National Museum of Korea

Like the sixteenth-century painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 2), other examples from later periods depict the rock clusters as seen from the sea. For instance, the “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Seas and Mountains (Fig. 26) produced in 1816 by Kim Ha-jong (金夏鍾, 1793–after 1875) places the cliff with the Chongseokjeong Pavilion in the left section and arrays a row of rock clusters in front of the cliff. The Superb Landscape of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (1920) (Fig. 27) by Kim Gyu-jin (金圭鎭, 1868–1933), from the modern era, features a similar composition and perspective but in a dramatically expanded scope and scale.

jkaa-16-77-f026.tif

Fig. 26. “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Seas and Mountains by Kim Ha-jong. Joseon, 1816. Light color on silk. 27.2 × 41.8 cm. National Museum of Korea

jkaa-16-77-f027.tif

Fig. 27. Superb Landscape of Chongseokjeong Pavilion by Kim Gyu-jin. 1920. Color on silk. 205.1 × 883.0 cm. Changdeokgung Palace

A compositional change observed in the Chongseokjeong Pavilion paintings from the sixteenth century through the modern era shows a change in perspective from viewing rock clusters from the sea to looking at the sea from the inland area (Figs. 28). This change is related to the popularization of paintings of the Gwandong region that use the compositions of Jeong Seon and Kim Hongdo. By the time Kim Ha-jong painted “Chongseokjeong Pavilion,” paintings depicting a view of rock clusters from the sea like the sixteenth-century examples reemerged.

A comparison of depictions and titles of scenic spots (Figs. 29) indicates that a thatched-hut with the inscription of “Saseonjeong Pavilion” in the sixteenth-century painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion changes into a tiled house with a hipped-and-gabled roof and the inscription of “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” in other paintings. Moreover, all scenes of the Chongseokjeong Pavilion include a stele of a different shape. In the sixteenth-century painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion (Fig. 29-1), a stele inscribed with “moljabi” (沒字碑, uninscribed stele) stands next to the hut. The “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of Pungaksan Mountain in the Sinmyo Year (Fig. 29-2) also illustrates a stele painted in white next to the building but bears an inscription of “maehyangbi” (埋香碑, stele for the incense burial ceremony). A white stele also appears in the “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from the Album of the Ten Scenic Spots in Gwandong Region (Fig. 29-3), but it bears no inscription; it might be either moljabi or maehyangbi. In the “Chongseokjeong Pavilion” from Kim Hongdo’s Album of Famous Mountains of Korea (Fig. 29-4), only the pedestal for the stele is depicted near the building. This depiction matches the records in Yi Gok’s “Dongyugi” that there used to be another stele on the cliff besides moljabi, but only its footstone remained. Given Kim Hongdo’s painting style of emphasizing the reality of the scenery, he is presumed to have excluded the stele designated as moljabi or maehyangbi since it was invisible from his perspective and to have painted only the pedestal visible to him.

jkaa-16-77-f028.tif

Figs. 28. Compositional changes in the paintings of Chongseokjeong Pavilion: 1) late 16th century, 2) 1711 (by Jeong Seon), 3) 1746–1748, 4) after 1788 (by Kim Hongdo), 5) 1816 (by Kim Ha-jong), 6) 1920 (by Kim Gyu-jin) (Markings by the author)

jkaa-16-77-f029.tif

Figs. 29. Changes in the building and stele of the Chongseokjeong Pavilion: 1) late 16th century, 2) 1711 (by Jeong Seon), 3) 1746–1748, 4) after 1788 (by Kim Hongdo) (Markings by the author)

The Tradition of Producing Paintings of Gwandong and the Status of Paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion

The paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion are presumed to have originally been parts of a folding screen depicting the Gwandong region. Several historical records point out that the famous scenic spots in the Gwandong region were already painted in the sixteenth century. These records include a review that Sin Heum (申欽, 1566–1628) wrote about the painting of Gwandong by Kim Saeng (金生, 711–?) in his Sangchonjip (象村集, Collected Works of Sangchon); a verse from Taekdangjip (澤堂集, Collected Works of Taekdang) by Yi Sik (李植, 1584–1647) that mentions an ink painting by An Gyeon (active in the fifteenth century) at Naksansa Temple was very unusual; and a poem that Yi Hwang (李滉, 1501–1570) wrote for the painting of “Traveling to Gyeongpodae Pavilion” in his Toegyejip (退溪集, Collected Works of Toegye).

The painting of the Gwandong region appears to have been produced not just in a single scroll but in a folding screen with several panels. After the theme of ‘Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’ was introduced to Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, eight songs (八詠詩, K. palyeongsi) about the regions of Gangneung, Samcheok, Pyeonghae, etc., began to be composed. By the sixteenth century, a perception of the motif of ‘Eight Scenic Spots of Gwandong’ was shaped, as illustrated in “Eight Songs about Gwandong” (關東八詠) from Nuljaejip (訥齋集, Collected Works of Nuljae) by Park Sang (朴祥, 1474–1530) and in Yi Hwang’s comments on Gyeongpoho Lake as the foremost among the eight scenic spots of Gwandong in his Toegyejip. In a similar vein, in his Ganijip (簡易集, Collected Works of Gani), Choe Rip (崔岦, 1539–1612) states that he composed poems by using rhyme words that were matched to several outstanding works from the poems or paintings produced by Yi Jeong (李霆, 1554–1626) in the Gwandong region. Choe also composed four pentasyllabic quatrains about the Gyeongpodae Pavilion, the Jukseoru Pavilion, the Mangyangjeong Pavilion, and the Wolsongjeong Pavilion. These records prove that in the sixteenth century, favorable circumstances for designating several places in Gwandong as its scenic spots and producing folding screens illustrating Gwandong’s scenic spots were formed.

Moreover, the records on the hanging scroll of “Hakrimsu’s Journey to Geumgangsan Mountain” in Sojaejip (穌齋集, Collected Works of Sojae) by No Su-sin (盧守愼, 1515–1590) are noteworthy. This scroll contains a painting by Kim Si (金禔, 1524–1593) and poems by Yi San-hae (李山海, 1538–1609) and No Su-sin about the travel of Yi Gyeong-yun (李慶胤, 1545–1611; fief title: “Hakrimsu”) to Geumgangsan Mountain. It aptly demonstrates the synthesis of traveling experiences of several literati. In his poem, No Su-sin reflects back on his own journey to Geumgangsan and states that he is about to turn seventy. This suggests that the hanging scroll of “Hakrimsu’s Journey to Geumgangsan Mountain” may have been produced around 1585. The practice of writing poems and creating paintings about travels is in line with the production background of the paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion, reflecting the trend in art and literature at the time.

The production of a folding screen depicting the Gwandong region is verified in the “Colophons in the Records of Scenic Spots in Gwandong” (關東勝賞錄跋) from Choe Rip’s Ganijip (簡易集, Collected Works of Gani). These colophons state as follows:

… while the governor Sir Han visited mountains, seas and scenic spots of each region along the path within the precincts to look into the customs of people, he appreciated [scenic spots] and recited poems [about them] along with guests and the young. There was nothing that he did not enjoy. He then ordered a painter to paint [these scenic spots] and specially mount the paintings on a folding screen so that he could store it at his house and look at it whenever he wanted …

This quote indicates that Han Deok-won (韓德遠, 1550–?), who was appointed as the governor of Gangwon-do Province in 1605, asked a painter to produce a folding screen depicting scenic spots in the Gwandong region.

Another reference illustrates the production of a fourpanel folding screen with images of scenic spots in Gwandong. In his Taecheonjip (苔泉集, Collected Works of Taecheon), Min In-baek (閔仁伯, 1552–1626) documents that when he served as the district magistrate of Samcheok, he commissioned the production of a folding screen with Kim Si-heon (金時獻, 1560–1613), the district magistrate of Yangyang, and Jo Tak (曺倬, 1552–1621), the district magistrate of Gangneung, to commemorate their passing of the civil service examination with the highest score within the first ranking group. According to Min, the production of the four-panel folding screen began in the Imja Year (1612) by painting the Naksansa Temple, the Gyeongpodae Pavilion, and the Jukseoru Pavilion on each of the three panels and writing the title and poem on the one panel, but its completion failed. Other accounts on folding screens of the Gwandong region can be found in the Cheonghajip (靑霞集, Collected Works of Cheongha) by Kwon Geuk-jung (權克中, 1585–1659) which records that he wrote a heptasyllabic poem with four rhymes on a folding screen of landscape in Gwandong.

As mentioned above, historical records on the paintings of scenic spots in Gwandong region from the Goryeo Dynasty through the Joseon Dynasty show that they were produced as a single hanging scroll, a folding screen with several panels, and an album with several leaves. There had been no actual works that verified such records before the emergence of the two paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion that have been discussed in this paper. These two paintings are significant in the history of painting in that they evince the production of folding screens of the Gwandong region that has been confirmed only on record as the earliest extant examples of Gwandong paintings. According to the inscription on the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion, these two paintings were produced as parts of an eightpanel folding screen, suggesting that the painting format of eight scenic spots in Gwandong was already established in the late sixteenth century.

Park Chung-gan who wrote the colophon is presumed to have commissioned a painter to paint the scenic spots that Park visited during his travel. Park also added poems about his reflection on true qualities of the nature that he composed during his journey. The painter intended to display the characteristics of the places by visualizing real life scenery observed during Park’s sightseeing trip and writing the names of natural features and scenic spots. The paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion try to apply new arrangements, perspectives, and expression modes to exhibit characteristics of real scenery. In particular, the painting of Chongseokjeong Pavilion presents a bold composition of a central axis, a striking contrast in gradations of ink tone, and vertical texture strokes which are considered the prototype of ax-cut brushstrokes.

The paintings of Gyeongpodae Pavilion and Chongseokjeong Pavilion are of great significance in that they are the earliest existing examples to verify a historical fact that sightseeing trips were documented in poetry and paintings. They also hold considerable importance since they have broadened our understanding of Korean real scenery landscape painting by showing compositions, perspectives, and texture techniques of the unprecedented sixteenth-century landscape painting.

Footnote

1

This paper follows the period classification by Professor Ahn Hwi-Joon that commonly divides the painting history of Joseon Dynasty into the early Joseon period (1392–ca. 1550), the mid-Joseon period (ca. 1550–ca. 1700), the late Joseon period (ca. 1700–ca. 1850), and the end of the Joseon period (ca. 1850–1910).

2

Before entering the collection of the National Museum of Korea, these two paintings were owned by an art dealer shop in Japan. After the National Museum of Korea conducted a survey on these works in June 2017 for the first time, the Friends of the National Museum of Korea purchased them with monetary donation from Yun Ikseong and his wife Yun Gwangja and donated them to the National Museum of Korea in July 2019. These two paintings were first introduced to the general public at the exhibition Through the Eyes of Joseon Painters: Real Scenery Landscapes of Korea. See National Museum of Korea 2019, 18–23.

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