in Korean Costume" drawing made by Rubens, in 1617/18 -- black
chalk and some traces of red chalk on paper, 38.4 x 23.5 cm, now in
the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), reg. no. 83.GB.384) --
Update: "Korean man" identified. Extract from a conference in 2016 in Shanghai, Fudan university
A Chinese Visitor to the Netherlands in 1601: The Hakka Merchant Wu Pu and his Portrait by Peter Paul Rubens
Thijs Weststeijn, Utrecht University/University of Amsterdam
Among the onlookers Rubens depicted in The miracles of Saint Francis Xavier, one figure has drawn the particular attention of art historians. On the basis of his dress, 14 facial features, and curious hat, he has been connected to a drawing in the Getty
Museum known as the ‘Korean man’. In this talk I will defend my thesis that the drawing was, in turn, based on a work by another artist. This was a portrait of an individual: a Chinese merchant who travelled on a VOC ship --in fact the first East Asian
to visit Europe whose identity is documented in such detail. The new conclusion is based on an album amicorum of the Middelburg lawyer Nicolaas de Vrise (1595-1609).
An inscription in Chinese and an additional explanation in Latin identify the sitter as the Chinese merchant Wu Pu, who arrived in Middelburg on 31 May 1600. Additional Dutch and Chinese sources document Wu Pu’s career after his return to Southeast Asia,
as a middleman for the VOC. These findings inspire the observation that the common tendency to study images in relation to other images rather than to historical reality may be counterproductive. Too much fear of a positivist ‘fallacy’ may confirm the
dynamic of Orientalist or ‘exotic’ projections, whereas an encounter between individuals actually took place..
PDF of the article
on this website are watermarked and copyrights are deposited at Digimarc
In Vienna there is another picture in the Kunsthistorische
Museum called "The miracles of Francis Xavier"
- with the same person in Korean dress. Over there
the person has more clearly a Western face. (Courtesy
Werner Koidl, because of copyrights I can't display
this picture but
I can show the head)
Link to Korean article