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Peacocks in Peach Tree under Moonlight

Artist/maker unknown, Korean

Made in Korea, Asia

19th century

Ink and color on paper; framed

68 3/4 × 28 1/4 inches (174.6 × 71.8 cm) Image: 61 3/4 × 21 3/4 inches (156.8 × 55.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. W. James Anderson, Mrs. Samuel Bell, Jr., Mrs. Richard Drayton, and Charles T. Ludington, Jr., in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Townsend Ludington, 1970

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This bird-and-flower painting, one of a pair, exemplifies the superb artistic achievements of nineteenth-century Joseon dynasty court painters. This panel shows a peacock couple and six young, with a peach tree, peonies, and the moon. 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.