Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Books and Scholars' Possessions

Unidentified Artist
early 20th century
Ten-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk
Overall: 69 x 180 in. (175.3 x 457.2 cm) Each image: 40 1/2 x 12 1/2 in. (102.9 x 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Shelby White Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
Intended to evoke the interior of a Confucian scholar’s study, this screen belongs to a genre known in Korean as chaekgeori (literally, “books and things”), which originated in the late eighteenth century. Initially, such screens were commissioned for the royal court and were painted with trompe-l’oeil bookcases displaying books, imported luxuries, vessels, and collectibles. In later chaekgeori screens, as seen here, the bookcases were eliminated. Each panel portrays an assemblage of neatly stacked volumes and other objects associated with scholarly activities, including paper, ink, brush, and ink stone as well as archaic bronze vessels, porcelain, fruits, flowering plants, and small pieces of furniture.

Distinctive objects appearing in this screen include (from right to left) three peacock feathers in a vase (panel 3), monochrome ink landscape paintings (panels 2 and 5), gold-painted black porcelain (panels 4, 7, and 10), a game board (panel 6), and a pendulum clock with Roman numerals and letters (panel 10). Two auspicious Chinese characters are repeated on vessels throughout the screen, one for longevity (壽 su in Korean; panels 1, 2, 8, and 9) and one for good fortune (福 bok in Korean; panels 1, 7, 9, and 10).
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