Although the sitter in this portrait is not identified, his black-trimmed white robe and double-tiered hat with three peaks identify him as a scholar in informal garb. Quite unusual, he sits kneeling, rather than cross-legged like the gentleman in the adjacent portrait.
Chae’s works incorporate the conventions of both traditional ancestral portraiture and modern photography, such as a heightened realism and a studio-set background that included a painted folding screen. Indeed, he often painted from photos, especially as age limited his mobility; this portrait may very well have had a photographic, rather than live, model.
Signature: The inscription on the left provides the cyclical year gapja (甲子), corresponding to 1924. The artist’s pen name Seokji (石芝) is given in the seal.
Dr. Peter Reimann , Springfield, New Jersey (1957/58–2012, acquired in Korea ; sold in 2012, through Koo New York, to MMA)