Hearing a Birdsong on Horseback (마상청앵 김홍도)

Kim Hong-do (1745-1806), Light colors on paper, 117.2×52.0cm

○Title: Masterpieces of Joseon Painting, Kansong Collection
○Exhibition Period: Jun. 16th (Sat) 2018 ~ Sep. 16th (Sunday) 2018
○Venue: Umi Hall, 1 Exhibition Hall

Kim Hong-do did the best true-view genre paintings ever, and Hearing a Birdsong on Horseback is one of his many masterpieces. On a fine late spring day amid the fresh verdure of the trees and the blossoming flowers, a young scholar is overcome by spring fever and hits the road on horseback. He encounters a couple of orioles singing on a roadside willow tree, and is fascinated by their song.


The willow is rendered very concisely and shown off of the road to the side, and much of the scene is left empty to our imagination. The man and his servant boy, on the other hand, are shown at the center. This bold composition directs our attention to the man himself. It is obvious that he is enthralled by the singing orioles. The artist rendered the folds in the subjects’ robes by soft yet powerful straight brush lines without varying the thickness of the lines, effectively representing the loose and starchy style of Joseon clothing. Interestingly, the artist only used ink wash to portray the young man’s horsehair hat, horse, and the roadside grass, perhaps in order to strike a balance with the powerful straight brush line used for the man’s robe.

Box In Post 1 – Laluce – 300×250

Yi In-mun, a contemporary painter of the same age and a friend of Kim Hong-do, completely understood spring fever and paid tribute to this painting in the verse written at the top-left of this painting. It says:

A beautiful young man stops under the blossoms to listen to the thousand reedy vocals. The sound is like a pair of golden tangerines before a scholar’s jar of wine. The tangled golden weaver’s shuttle is on the willow bank. The shimmering heat waves blend with the rain to weave the spring river.




Daegu Art Museum


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