UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

‘The principle of things’ : materiality and morality from Dutch still-life to Korean Chaekgeori Irene, Choi


Elements from Dutch seventeenth-century still-lifes—the trompe-l’oeil motif of the painted curtain, vases of flowers, books and writing instruments—appear in a unique form of Korean painting on folding screens (Chaekgeori) during the late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Connecting still-life paintings from the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic to the culture of eighteenth-century Joseon Korea, this thesis explores the natures of representation and vision and anxieties about material wealth and everyday objects in both the Protestant Netherlands and the Confucian Joseon dynasty. An important bridge between these two cultures is Qing (1644-1911) China, which had closer cultural contact with Europe than Korea during the eighteenth-century. During this period, Korean scholars were part of the same circles in the same environment in Beijing as European envoys and painters in residence at the Beijing Palace, such as the Italian Jesuit father Giuseppe Castiglione (郞世寧, 1688–1766), known for his illusionistic still-lifes. Thus, China, Korea and Europe were in direct contact, exchanging ideas on various fields of arts and sciences. Not only do I consider the still-life genre as a series of conventions in painting, but more importantly as a mode of exchange through and in representation that allows me to position late Joseon Korea within the larger artistic network of the early modern era between Europe and East Asia.

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