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Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture

Portrait of Lee Sam, 1751
Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)
Ink and colors on silk.

Hampyeong Lee Family Collection.
Photograph © Baekje Military Museum.

This half-length portrait of Lee Sam (Yi Sam, 1677–1735) was based on the draft portrait. The album containing finished portraits includes six leaves of calligraphy by another Bunmu meritorious official, Cho Hyeonmyeong (1690–1752). The calligraphy text records how the re-creation of portraits of Bunmu meritorious subjects began in 1750 and was completed the following year, twenty-three years after the original portraits were made. Cho wrote that the portraits of five officials who were still living in 1750 were newly created and reflected their aged appearances. Portraits of the other officials, including Lee Sam, who had already passed away were re-created based on their appearances in the earlier 1728 portraits. The eight draft portraits, including that of Lee Sam, in the collection of the Asian Art Museum can be identified as part of the later portrait project of 1750–1751.