Rescuing Art History from the Nation: Late Chosŏn Korea between Europe and Edo Japan

Key information

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Virtual Event

About this event

Prof J.P. Park (University of Oxford)
Pak Chega (1750–1805), Yŏnp’yŏng with His Mother in his Childhood, ca, late eighteenth c. Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, 214.0 x 49.5 cm. National Museum of Korea.


For the past couple of decades, a growing number of historians of Korean art has investigated artistic connections between late Chosŏn Korea and Europe. By pointing out the acceptance of European painterly techniques such as one-point perspectives, chiaroscuro, camera obscura, repoussoir, and visual artifice taken up by late Chosŏn elites, recent scholarship has  explained how and why early modern Korean artists were able to adopt and learn the new styles and programs of Western art, which were based upon a completely different pictorial tradition. This research path may itself not pose any analytical disparities, but it rides on a certain level of historical nuance: Even though late Chosŏn was known to be a period of high conservatism and isolation, the seeds of modernity and globalization were nonetheless explored and largely embraced by its artists and critics. But the unbiased and unprejudiced minds of late Chosŏn artists celebrated in modern scholarship have not been equally illuminated when it comes to their relationship to the Japanese art of the time. By introducing evidence that testifies to the late Chosŏn public’s active interest in Japanese art, this paper will point to the neglected exchange of art and ideas between early modern Korea and Japan, and expose how age-old academic conventions and nationalisms remain firmly fixed in the study of East Asian art history.

Speaker Biography

J.P. Park , formerly Associate Professor at the University of California and Ailsa Mellon Bruce Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., holds the June and Simon Li Associate Professorship in the History of Chinese Art. Professor Park is a fellow of Lincoln College.

Professor Park's research interests include early modern Chinese Art, artistic exchange between China, Japan, and Korea, and multi-culturalism in contemporary East Asian art. His most recent books include A New Middle Kingdom: Painting and Cultural Politics in Late Choson Korea (1700–1850) (University of Washington Press, 2018) and Art by the Book: Painting Manuals and the Leisure Life in Late Ming China (University of Washington Press, 2012).


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Organiser: SOAS Centre of Korean Studies

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