Purchase, Seymour and Rogers Funds and Bequest of Dorothy Graham Bennett, 1990
Not on view
Delicate plum blossoms, budding in the chill of early spring, dot the long, swerving branch and its thin off-shoots; behind, a second, smaller branch echoes its lines. This impressionistic painting is both representational and abstract. In East Asia, plum blossoms, along with bamboo, chrysanthemums, and orchids, not only represent the four seasons but also form a quartet known as the Four Gentlemen (Korean: sagunja), a symbol of the virtuous Confucian scholar.
A distinguished scholar-official who served as prime minister in 1873 under Emperor Gojong (r. 1864–1907), Yi Yuwon was also a recognized painter, poet, and calligrapher.
Signature: Signature of the artist with two seals
Inscription: Inscription dated to Wu-tu (1888)
The inscription adds that the painting is done in the style of Yuanzhang, which is the style name of the Yuan dynasty painter, Wang Mien [ d. 1359].