ISSN : 1229-0076
This paper discusses the functionalities and styles of Joseon paintings that were transmitted to Japan by considering them in terms of provenance and as objects with cultural biographies; further, this paper will note trends in Japanese collections regarding these works, particularly paintings on screens. Research on the history of art ownership looks at how artworks assume new cultural contexts through the journey from their place of origin to the final destination, and how new meanings are created through interactions between the different actors as human networks are built. Also, the function and implication of screens as diplomatic gifts will be examined by looking at the Joseon paintings which were reproduced onto screens. Screens were produced by collecting many paintings. Analysis of this method will provide insight into how objects evolve in cultural and materialistic terms. Based on the abundance of materials collected in the past century and the analysis of painting styles of the surviving works, this paper will perform a literature review from various angles and present recommendations regarding the study of Joseon paintings held in Japan. A case analysis will illustrate how works created new functions and meanings as they met various people—viewers, patrons, connoisseurs, and owners—during their journey departing the artist’s hand and arriving in a new cultural environment, which will highlight the changes of the cultural and material biographies of Joseon paintings in Japan. In particular, paintings concerning Korean embassies have survived with a relatively clear record of provenance, and many of those works remain intact as they have not moved around within Japan since their arrival from Korea. But some were cut and mounted on silk scrolls and reborn into Japanese-style screens in combination with other paintings and calligraphic works after the occurrence of brush talks or singing events. These variations are attributable to the functionalities and characteristics of screens and influenced the way viewers sensed and appreciated the works. Tracing the changes which the objects underwent offers insight into the process of repurposing Korean paintings in cultural and material terms.