Poems, Orchids and Rocks

Poems, Orchids and Rocks

late 1800s
Artist
Shin Young-Sang, Korean, 1935-
Country
Korea
painting, screen
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Bunker
1980.127
Shin Young-Sang (Korean). Poems, Orchids and Rocks. late 1800s. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Bunker. 1980.127.
This object is currently on view
Dimensions
image height: 34 in, 86.36 cm; image width: 15 7/8 in, 40.3225 cm; overall height: 70 1/4 in, 178.435 cm; overall width: 141 in, 358.14 cm
Department
Asian
Collection
Asian

Poems, Rocks and Orchids
1800s, Joseon dynasty
Korea
Ink on paper
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Bunker 
1980.127

Along with plum, bamboo and chrysanthemum, the orchid is one of the Four Gentlemen - four plants that symbolize the virtues of a scholar. The orchid's scent, for example, is so understated that the flower is considered a symbol of modesty and restraint. The theme of the Four Gentlemen originated in China during the Song dynasty (960-1279) and was later adopted in Korea and Japan. Each plant was associated with a season of the year and each presented distinct challenges. Painting an orchid required brushwork similar to what was used when writing clerical script, an ancient style of Chinese calligraphy.