Skip Navigation
Encountering New Faces: Korean Portraits with Western Painting Techniques in the Chosŏn Dynasty

Encountering New Faces: Korean Portraits with Western Painting Techniques in the Chosŏn Dynasty

By Insoo Cho, Associate Professor, Korea National University of Arts / CKS Post Doc and Visiting Scholars Colloquium Series

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
146 Dodd Hall


During the Chosŏn dynasty, portraits have been closely associated with Confucian ancestral worship. The portrait paintings were considered important objects for descendants to communicate with ancestors and express their filial piety. These sacred effigies exhibited stylistic consistency with few radical changes. In the 18th century, however, a new style of portrait depiction appeared. Through cultural exchange with Qing China, Western painting techniques were introduced and stimulated Korean artists. Favoring the meticulous rendering of a life-like face with strong shading, Korean painters demonstrated almost hyper-realistic expression of clothes and furniture.

This lecture will discuss the process of adaptation and modification of Western painting style by Korean painters. It also examines the patrons’ complex and ambiguous attitudes toward the new artistic encounter with the West.


Insoo Cho Associate Professor, Art Theory Department, School of Visual Arts, Korea National University of Arts/ Visiting Scholar at Korea Institute, Harvard University 2011-2012

Professor Cho studied Korean and Chinese art history in Seoul National University, and at University of Kansas, where he received a Ph.D. in 2002. He had held curatorial positions at the Ho-Am Art Museum in Young-in, South Korea, where he was Chief Curator from 1999 until 2001.

Before he joined to the Department of Art Theory at KNUA in 2005, he had been Assistant Professor at the Department of Art History at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has edited books and published articles on Korean and Chinese arts focusing on portrait paintings. Professor Cho is currently engaged in research on Daoist immortal images in the Chosŏn Dynasty.

For more information please contact

Sejung Kim

Sponsor(s): Art History