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Collections: Korean Art


Number of objects: more than 500
Historical range: 10th century BCE–20th century
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bowl

The simple forms, spare decoration, and monochrome glazes of the Joseon period (1392–1910) Korean tea bowls used in Japan first attracted Charles Lang Freer to Korean ceramics. He expanded his collection to include celadon ceramics from the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392), which had once adorned palaces, Buddhist temples, and private residences of the aristocracy. During the last twenty years of his life Freer acquired nearly 500 Korean art objects, including approximately 130 Goryeo and eighty Joseon ceramic pieces. When the Freer Gallery of Art opened its doors in 1923, Freer's assembly of Korean art was considered unparalleled in quality and historical scope.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Jade, stone, and glass ornaments and gold jewelry from the Three Kingdoms period (57–668)
  • Significant collection of Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) ceramics, representing a variety of forms and techniques, and including the full historic range of celadon
  • Three well-preserved Buddhist paintings from the Goryeo dynasty
  • Small collections of Goryeo dynasty bronze, silver, and gold materials, such as amulets, ornaments, and carvings
  • Joseon period (1392–1910) ceramics, including porcelain made for the court and bowls used in Japan for the tea ceremony