Plum Branch

Yi Yu-won Korean

Not on view

As one of the earliest trees to flower, the plum, a popular subject in painting, represents winter. The delicate but tenacious beauty of plum blossoms blanketed in late winter snow was taken by Confucian scholars as a metaphor for facing hardship with dignity and elegance. Yi Yu-won, a recognized painter, poet, and calligrapher as well as a distinguished scholar-official, served as prime minister under Emperor Gojong (reigned 1864–1907). In this work he skillfully juxtaposed the strong, angular strokes of the plum branch with thin, precise offshoots dotted with delicate blossoms. Painting on a gray background evocative of an overcast day, Yi created depth through the inclusion of a smaller branch whose shape echoes that of the main one in a lighter hue.

Plum Branch, Yi Yu-won (Korean, 1814–1888), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Korea

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.