Shin Han-pyeong, Father of Shin Yun-bok
Court painters or hwawon(화원) of the Joseon Dynasty belonged to the Royal Bureau of Painting. There, they mostly produced paintings required by the state or illustrations for royal documents.
One of the court painters was Shin Yun-bok, who is known for his works such as “Portrait of a Beauty” and “Genre Painting Book.” Shin usually captured everyday life of the upper class or professional female entertainers. His drawings full of beauty and warmth are still adored by people today.
Those who are interested in Shin’s paintings should also take note of another artist, who was excellent in portraits and commonplace paintings depicting daily life of the time. This artist achieved fame along with master painters of the time, such as Jeong Seon and Kim Hong-do. He was Shin Han-pyeong, the father of Shin Yun-bok.
Painter who Drew Portrait of the King Three Times
Shin Han-pyeong’s family showed outstanding ability in painting for several generations, as indicated by his son Shin Yun-bok. It is said that after watching his uncle drawing pictures when he was little, Shin Han-pyeong began to follow the artistic hobby.
Shin drew a portrait of the king as many as three times. At the time, only top court painters were allowed to draw the portrait of the king, which was called eojin(어진).
According to the Annals of King Jeongjo, the king had his portrait drawn every ten years. The historical record shows that Shin was in charge of this mission, which was also joined by renowned painter Kim Hong-do.
Shin’s Only Remaining Genre Painting, “Mother Feeding Her Baby”
Only a handful of Shin’s works still remain, and they are considered his masterworks. The most famous one is “Mother Feeding Her Baby.”
This is Shin’s only remaining genre painting. Judging from the size of the painting and a wrinkle in the middle, experts assume that the drawing was ripped away from a book of genre paintings that could be left by Shin.
This work “Mother Feeding Her Baby” describes people only, with the background omitted drastically. The postures and facial expressions of the figures are vivid enough to catch the eye of the viewers.
In the picture, a mother appears with her three children. The mother is seated in the middle, breastfeeding her youngest child in her arms. Her daughter is sitting politely next to her, while a little boy, who lost his mother to the baby, is standing beside her, rubbing his eye.
In fact, Shin had two sons and a daughter. Some critics suppose that the people in the painting were his family members.
If the speculation is correct, the little boy rubbing his eye in the picture is none other than Shin Yun-bok, who is known by his penname Hyewon. Shin Han-pyeong had his son when he was 33.
Shin’s Masterpiece is his Son, Shin Yun-bok
Obviously, Shin is less famous than his son Shin Yun-bok. But he faithfully walked the path of an artist all his life. He drew various paintings of royal events and portraits of the king at the Royal Bureau of Painting for over 30 years. The genre painter also enjoyed capturing nature. Critics say that Shin focused more on the arrangement of colors than simply delineating objects or situations. Shin is believed to show great talent for that.
It is said that Shin was in charge of coloring when drawing the portrait of the king. Apparently, he had a great influence on his son Shin Yun-bok, who is well-known for using refined colors.
As the junior Shin grew up watching his father’s paintings, the birth of master artist Shin Yun-bok had probably already been anticipated.