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SUB-SERIES Identifier: HUM 243

Ch’aekkŏri project files, 1986-1998

Scope and Contents

Documents Wagner’s study of Korean paintings executed on folding screens and used for interior decoration during the latter part of the Chosŏn period. The screens were primarily still life paintings of the furnishing of an idealized Confucian scholar’s study. Appearing in Korean households, the Ch’aekkŏri screens conveyed dignity, luxury, and reverence for learning and symbolized the observance of proper Confucian relationships, ensuring that harmony would prevail in the home. There was a long-held belief that anonymous folk artists produced all Ch'aekkŏri paintings. Wagner and his colleague, Kay E. Black, an independent researcher, discovered otherwise by studying four Ch’aekkŏri paintings, determining that they were the product of recognized Korean artists; their results are included in an article in this subseries Ch’aekkŏri Paintings: A Korean Jigsaw Puzzle (1993). Wagner and Black’s research took five years. Black was responsible for the descriptive and analytical material while Wagner helped determine the identity and lineage background of the four nineteenth-century court painters they studied.

The bulk of the records include Wagner’s notes on the use of seals, the lineage of painters, pictures and diagrams used in Wagner and Black’s publications, biographies of identified artists examined by Wagner, copies of lineage documents and rosters, and correspondence between Wagner and Black. Manuscripts written by Black in this subseries are Korean Surprises in Denver (1993), a discussion of the Korean collection at the Denver Art Museum; Ch’aekkŏri: A Puzzle, Columbia’s Hidden Treasure (1990), a description of ch’aekkŏri screens of the Chosŏn period at Columbia University; Tigers: The King of Beasts in Paintings of the Chosôn Period (circa 1990s), an examination of the tiger image in Korean artifacts; and The Puzzling Portrait (1994), a report on the provenance of the Chinese painting "The Puzzling Portrait", in the Denver Art Museum. Articles co-authored by Wagner and Black on Ch’aekkŏri paintings include Stockholm Abstract: Significant Aspects of the Ch’aekkŏri Studies (1997) and Court Style Ch’aekkŏri (1998).

Floppy disks contain Wagner's manuscript fragments chiefly for Ch’aekkŏri: A Puzzle, Columbia’s Hidden Treasure (1990), Ch’aekkŏri Paintings: A Korean Jigsaw Puzzle (1993), and Stockholm Abstract: Significant Aspects of the Ch’aekkŏri Studies (1997). Also included is information for various page elements including diagrams, legends, and picture captions, glossaries, and tables.


  • 1986-1998

Conditions Governing Access

Restrictions on access are noted at the folder level.

Conditions Governing Use

Floppy disks are closed due to physical format; use copy of contents not yet available.


1.06 cubic feet (4 document boxes, 2 folders)


Original arrangement and folder titles were retained in most cases.

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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