Korea, Japanese colonial period
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Overall: 156.4 x 87.3 cm (61 9/16 x 34 3/8 in.); Painting only: 127 x 71.1 cm (50 x 28 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2020.259
It was European photography introduced to Korea in the end of the 1800s that most inspired Chae’s naturalistic approach to his subject.
Wearing a dark green court uniform, a man is seated in a chair covered with a leopard skin, a gift from the royal court to a newly appointed officer. The embroidered rank badge with a design of a single flying crane identifies the sitter’s bureaucratic status: the third ranked officer. In this work, the painter Chae Yongshin (1848–1941) rendered a newly promoted government official's shy smile, giving a glimpse into his mixed feelings of confidence and anxiety about his future professional career.
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