Portrait of a scholar, Chae Yongsin (artist name: Seokji) (Korean, 1850–1941), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Korea

석지 채용신 학자 초상
石芝 蔡龍臣 學者肖像
Portrait of a scholar

Chae Yongsin (artist name: Seokji) (Korean, 1850–1941)
dated by inscription to 1924
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 38 1/8 × 21 1/8 in. (96.8 × 53.7 cm)
Overall with mounting: 48 × 24 7/16 in. (121.9 × 62.1 cm)
Overall with knobs: 48 × 24 3/4 in. (121.9 × 62.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
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.

Inscription: 一千0十五萬五千八百四十一年甲子三月上澣前府使從二品蔡石芝寫
Dr. Peter Reimann , Springfield, New Jersey (1957/58–2012, acquired in Korea ; sold in 2012, through Koo New York, to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Portraits in Korean Painting," December 6, 2012–June 9, 2013.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Korea: 100 Years of Collecting at the Met," February 7, 2015–March 27, 2016.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendors of Korean Art," October 1, 2016–September 22, 2018.