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Western chinaware used in Joseon royal court on show


The National Palace Museum of Korea on Wednesday opens an exhibition titled “New Era of The Royal Ceramics - Embracing the Western-Style Porcelain in the Joseon Royal Court,” which will run until Oct. 4.

“This is an interesting exhibition where visitors can see how the conservative country challenged itself to become a modern country and also how it embraced ceramics in the process,” head of CHA Chung Jae-suk said during a press conference held at the National Palace Museum of Korea on Tuesday.

The exhibition showcases a total of 400 items including not only Korean traditional porcelain ware but also western-style porcelain ware from overseas. The exhibition organizer noted that the displayed items include ceramics created by French companies -- Manufacture Nationale de Sevres, Gien, Pillivuyt, Alluad and William Guerin — and UK companies— D .Fielding & Co., Maple & Co. and Johnson Brothers.

The porcelain ware are showcased under five different sections-- Ceramic Consumption of the Joseon Royal Court, Background of the Embrace of Imported Ceramics by the Royal Court, Ceramic Gifts Exchanged between Joseon and France, Western-style Banquets and Tableware and Imported Vases that Adorned the Royal Court.

During the press conference, the exhibition curator highlighted the third section of the exhibition which displays a white porcelain salamis vase with polychrome decoration, produced by Manufacture Nationale de Sevres in 1878. The vase was presented to King Gojong by French President Marie François Sadi Carnot to commemorate the signing of the Korea-France Treaty of 1886. This marked the first time that Joseon exchanged ceramics as diplomatic gifts with a Western country, according to the museum.

“King Gojong gave two celadon bowls from the 12th -13th century in return. We initially planned to display those items at this exhibition but could not due to the coronavirus situation,” National Palace Museum of Korea official said. The museum official added that it will prepare a special exhibition with the two pieces in the near future.

By Song Seung-hyun (