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Pair of Peonies with Chinese ideographs "Good Fortunes" (left) and "Long Life" (right)

late 19th century, Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910)

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Pair of Panels; ink and mineral color on paper
Painting: 47 x 16.5 in. (119.4 x 41.9 cm)
Mounted: 60 x 20.5 in (152.4 x 52.1 cm)

A symbol of prosperity and happiness, the peony was a favorite subject of Korean decorative art, as it was in China. In this pair of court-style paint¬ings, luxuriant peony blossoms and leaves have been gracefully arranged to almost completely fill the space, emphasizing the feeling of abundance. The foliage is depicted with exceptional vivacity and splendor — note the dynamic, multidirec¬tional profusion of leaves. The peonies’ naturally tough, corded stems are cleverly fashioned into the Chinese ideographs for “long life” and “good fortune.”

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