Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Birds and Flowers

Unidentified Artist Korean
Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
late 19th–early 20th century
Ten-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk
Image (each panel): 54 3/8 x 10 3/8 in. (138.1 x 26.4 cm) Overall: 73 5/8 in. × 11 ft. 3/8 in. (187 × 336.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift and John M. Crawford Jr. Bequest, 1993
Accession Number:
Not on view
Paintings of birds and flowers have a long tradition in East Asian art. In Korea folding screens depicting combinations of birds and flowers became prevalent in the late Joseon period and continued to be popular in the twentieth century.

Carefully composed and meticulously detailed, the scenes in this colorful and exquisitely painted screen are characterized by heightened realism. Each panel portrays one or more pairs of birds resting on or flying around a blossoming plant, a tree, or reeds. The rightmost panel also includes a hen with her chicks under a rock. The symbolism of male-female pairings of birds—mandarin ducks, for example, are known to mate for life—made such screens suitable decoration for wedding ceremonies or a bridal chamber. Beyond domestic bliss, paintings of birds and flowers also embodied wishes for wealth, career advancement, longevity, and fecundity.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds and Flowers," November 1, 2006–April 21, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Maebyông," October 30, 2007–March 3, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of Korea," July 7, 2009–November 15, 2009.

Related Objects

Hinagata chō (Model Book)

Date: 19th century Medium: Watercolor and ink on paper Accession: JIB138 On view in:Not on view

The Style of Woman's Fashion

Medium: Black and white illustrations with captions; ink on paper Accession: JIB154 On view in:Not on view

Illustrated book

Medium: Ink drawings Accession: JIB156 On view in:Not on view

Album of Sketches for Lacquer Decoration

Date: 1839 Medium: Ink and color on paper Accession: JIB134 On view in:Not on view

Karaki Masaemon

Date: 19th century Medium: Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper Accession: JP212.49 On view in:Not on view