[KS] Re: Seeking info on Hubert Vos

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at fas.harvard.edu
Thu Dec 2 09:04:47 EST 1999

<fontfamily><param>Times</param>Dear Christine and others:

I am not too sure that the Web is the best source for historical
information (yet).  Hubert Vos (1855 Maastrich - 1935 New York) did
most if not all of the works he did during his travel around the world
twice -- certainly this is true for the portraits! Usually one copy
stayed with the court/king/empress of the country that he portrayed,
while he took the other copy home to the U.S.  In the case of the
portrait of the Empress Dowager (1835-1908) from 1905 I am not sure if
this is the case too. There is a second portrait in the Summer Palace
in Beijing, but that is not identical to the one from the Fogg Art
Museum (now Harvard-Yenching Library). However, the three works from
Korea we know of were all done twice. These are (a) a portrait of
Kojong (life size), (b) a portrait of Min Sang-ho (1870-1933), and (c)
a landscape of Seoul. These paintings hung in the Toksu Palace until
they were destroyed in the large fire of 1904. This is described in
several accounts, e.g. in the published memoirs of =C9mile Martel
(1874-1949), the director of the French Language School in Seoul.=20

Korean scholars have consistently argued that Hubert Vos only stayed
for a very short time in Korea, and that he had no or almost no contact
with Korean court painters. I have countered this with some evidence (a
German newspaper article about the Vos' meeting with Prince Heinrich in
Korea that indicates that Vos entered Korea before June 1898), proving
that Vos actually stayed for several months in Korea. (You may find a
full discussion of Vos in my 1992 M.A. thesis, pp. 142-148; all sources
are also given here ... a copy is in R=FCbel Library.) For some "quick
and dirty" reference you may want to consult the Korean Hubert Vos

  <bold>Editor</bold>: Kim, Hong-nam

  <bold>Year</bold>: 1982

  <bold>Title</bold>: Kuhanmal migugin hwaga Posu ga kurin Kojong
hwangje ch'osanghwa t'ukpyol chonsi =3D A Special Exhibition of the
Portrait of Emperor Ko-Jong: Hubert Vos, the American Painter at the
End of Yi Dynasty

  <bold>City</bold>: Seoul

  <bold>Publisher</bold>: Kungnip Hyondae Misulgwan

  <bold>Number of Pages</bold>: 46

  <bold>Location</bold>: (I cannot find this in HOLLIS now, but I am
sure I saw it in H-Yenching, Korean art section)

<bold>  Language</bold>: Korean and English

(... but be warned, the catalogue is full of errors, including such
details as the size of paintings etc.)

Hope this helps.



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E-MAIL: hoffmann at fas.harvard.edu

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