The Virtuous Image: Korean Painting and Calligraphy from the Late Choson Dynasty in the Smart Museum

September 14 – December 15, 2002

Korean scholar or "literati" painting flourished during the Choson dynasty (1392–1910), where members of the wealthy scholar-gentry class and civil officials alike brushed scroll paintings and albums of lyrical poetry, idealized landscapes, austere bamboo, and other refined subjects. 

Although based on classical Chinese themes, such works reveal a specific Korean sensibility within East Asian painting traditions. Scholars saw in such works elegant reflections of a uniquely Korean ordering of the world, founded in part on their own re-interpretations of venerable Chinese Confucian ideology. This was the first public presentation of the Smart Museum's small, but select collection of Korean scholar and Buddhist paintings and calligraphy, which date from the apogee of Korean court culture in the eighteenth century to the tumultuous end of royal rule at the beginning of twentieth century.