The simple forms, spare decoration, and monochrome glazes of Joseon period (1392–1910) teabowls first attracted Charles Lang Freer to Korean ceramics. He expanded his collection to include Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) celadons, which had once adorned palaces, Buddhist temples, and private residences of the aristocracy. The same aristocratic patrons commissioned exquisite Buddhist paintings, such as the three rare examples now held by the museum.
During the last twenty years of his life, Freer acquired nearly 500 Korean art objects, including approximately 130 Goryeo and 80 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.
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