Korean Ceramics Gallery(Joseon Dynasty : porcelain)

While a wide variety of ceramics were produced during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), white porcelain is notable for having been produced consistently during the whole Joseon period. In the first half of the fifteenth century in particular, as a record describes: “Vessels for court use in the reign of Sejong (1419–1450) were exclusively white porcelain”, white porcelain of superb quality—with a handsome form and a pure-white glaze—was produced. By the second half of the 1460s, when the official kiln called Saongwon Bunwon was established to fire wares exclusively for court use, white porcelain and blue-and-white ware, both being symbols of royal authority, were produced under an intensive control system. A record mentions that artists from the art academy in the capital were sent to paint the underglaze cobalt-blue decoration on the white porcelain body. There are a few extant examples with excellent brushworks, suggesting the high skills of these artists.
From the end of the sixteenth through the beginning of the seventeenth centuries, ceramic production massively declined due to a series of invasions by Japan and Qing China. Scarcity of cobalt-blue pigment led to the extensive production of porcelain with underglaze decoration in iron-brown paint instead of cobalt blue. In the first half of the eighteenth century, the official kiln was relocated to Geumsa-ri. White porcelain with a glaze in a warmer tone and blue-and-white ware with simple motifs were made there, detaching from the influence of Chinese ceramics and developing an original world of aesthetic beauty unique to Joseon dynasty. Since 1752, the official kiln was relocated to Bunwon-ri, at which stable production was ensured, and its operation soon reached its pinnacle. Porcelain with not only underglaze blue but also underglaze iron-brown decoration as well as underglaze copper-red decoration was produced. In 1883, however, the decline of national power led to transferring the control of the Bunwon-ri kilns to the private hands, putting an end to the history of the official kilns which lasted for 500 years.