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Emperor Gojong’s portrait to be on display in Korea

Posted November. 15, 2018 07:42,   

Updated November. 15, 2018 07:42

한국어

The portrait of Emperor Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty, photographed by the Korean modern painter and photographer Haegang Kim Kyu-jin (1868-1933) in 1905 at Gyeongungung (now known as Deoksugung Palace), will be on public display for the first time in Korea.

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will host an exhibition titled "The Art of the Korean Empire- Dreaming the Road of Light" from Thursday to shed light on court art of the Korean Empire. The exhibition will feature around 200 pieces of artwork including photography and paintings.

The highlight of the exhibition is the portrait of Emperor Gojong photographed by Kim Kyu-jin. In the picture, Gojong is sitting against a Japanese-style embroidered folding screen wearing a dragon robe, which symbolizes emperor, and a winged cap. After the photograph was taken, the artist lightly colored the robe, folding screen and carpet. The photo was taken at the corridor of the first floor of Deoksugung. The production year of the artwork, which is 1905, is quite evident, as "Gojong the Emperor of Korea Gwangmoo 9th year at Gyeongungung" is calligraphed on the upper right hand corner of the picture.

The picture was given to American financier Edward Harriman (1848-1909) in the railroad and shipbuilding business, who visited Korea in October 1905, by the Emperor. After Harriman passed away, the portrait was donated to the Newark Museum in 1934. The existence of the photo was known to Korea thanks to the research of the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation in 2015. It is the second photograph of a Korean king that was taken by a Korean photographer, after Ji Un-yeong (1852-1935), who photographed Gojong in 1884.


Won-Mo Yu onemore@donga.com