Grapevine

Grapevine

묵포도도 (墨葡萄圖)

early 1800s

Choe Seok-hwan

(Korean, active first half of 19th century)

Eight-panel folding screen; ink on paper

Image: 100.5 x 345 cm (39 9/16 x 135 13/16 in.)

Gift from the Collection of George Gund III 2015.510

Fun Fact

Grapes in premodern East Asia symbolize many children.

Description

July is the season of the ripening deep blue grapes, and also the month when the monsoon season begins in Korea. To the accompaniment of stormy summer wind, grape vines make a spectacular full circle across the surface of this eight-panel folding screen. The artist employed a variety of ink tones to create a sense of swift movement of grapevines amid turbulent storms.

Since their first introduction to the Korean peninsula around the 7th century through the Silk Road, grapes were used as artistic motifs. Artists embellished the surface of mother-of-pearl lacquer boxes or blue-and-white porcelain, while scholar-poets composed poems about the luscious sweet sourness of green grapes. By the late 19th century, grapes became the icon of fertility: the fruit grows in large clusters of many individual grapes, evoking the image of a stable clan with many descendants.

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