Phoenixes and Peonies under Rising Sun
Artist/maker unknown, Korean
This bird-and-flower painting, one of a pair, exemplifies the superb artistic achievements of nineteenth-century Joseon dynasty court painters. This panel depicts a phoenix couple and nine chicks on a paulownia tree with bamboo and the sun. Extensive research conducted during a recent conservation project revealed that this painting, and its pair, were most likely attached to the wall of a Joseon palace, serving both as wall adornment and as symbols of good fortune.
It is extremely rare to see birds portrayed with their young, which is believed to convey the wish for many offspring. Such symbolism is further supported by the inclusion of the moon and sun, a pairing that represents the harmony of Asian cosmic energy, yin and yang, dark and light, female and male.
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