This standing figure in a monk’s robe is Kashyapa (Korean: Gaseop), the eldest of the two principle disciples of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. His smiling face and relaxed posture convey benevolence and wisdom. According to the inscription placed with the votive offerings inside the image, the statue was made on the twenty-ninth day of the third month in 1700, together with a Buddha and arhat figures (Korean: nahan), at a temple retreat on Mount Duryun in Yeongam district, now part of Daeheung Temple in South Jeolla Province. The monk-sculptor Saengnan, whose works can be found today in Jeolla Province, was among the artists involved in this project.
Abby Greene Aldrich Rockefeller (1874–1948), wife of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and a champion of modern art, donated a group of Asian sculptures to the Metropolitan Museum in 1942. The gift, primarily composed of Chinese Buddhist art, was lauded at the time as “perhaps the most important single gift the Far Eastern Department has ever had.” This charming statue was one of two late Joseon-period Korean pieces that came to the Museum as part of that group. At the time, these works were thought to date to the thirteenth century.