Portrait of King Yeongjo
MaterialColor on silk
DimensionsW. 73.0x H. 169.2cm
The user can freely use the public work without fee, and can change it to create secondary work.
King Yeongjo (r.1724-1776) had his portrait painted every decade since the age of 21 and they numbered up to twelve including small and draft portraits. They were enshrined in portrait shrines such as Yeonghui-jeon (永禧殿, Hall of Eternal Blessings), the royal portrait shrine called Seonwon-jeon (璿源殿, Hall of Jade Wellspring), Mallyeong-jeon (萬寧殿, Hall of Myriad Tranquility) on Ganghwa Island, and Yuksang-gung (毓祥宮, Palace for Nurturer of the Auspicious) – the shrine of King Yeongjo’s mother. Unfortunately, this royal portrait of King Yeongjo and the ‘Portrait of Prince Yeoning’ are the only surviving examples of the twelve portraits.
This portrait is a replica by Chae Yong-sin (1850-1941) and Jo Seok-jin (1853-1920) which was produced shortly after the royal portrait shrine burnt down in 1900. The copy was based on the portrait of the 51 year old King Yeongjo which was made in 1744 and kept in the shrine of his mother. The inscription in the upper right corner reads, “Royal Portrait of King Yeongjo the Great, copied in the 4th year of the reign of Emperor Gwangmu, the year of Gyeongja” (英祖大王御眞 光武四年 庚子移摹).
The king is portrayed in half-length and dressed in the red dragon robe and the coronet which he wore when conducting his daily affairs. His hands are gathered and he is gazing slightly to his right. The style of his clothes including the tall coronet, the scooped neck of the robe and the belt crossing the frontal rank badge reflects men’s clothing of the late Joseon period.
The portrait figure was overall painted on the back of the silk, thereby enhancing the elegant color tones and expressing the royal majesty and dignity of the king. Although the surviving royal portrait of King Yeongjo is a copy made from an earlier portrait, it is still recognized as an important source in the study of Joseon royal portraiture as it reflects the efforts made by the top painters of the time to produce faithful copies. It is also a rare example of a surviving royal portrait.