Water-Moon Avalokitesvara (Suwol Gwaneum bosal)

Historical period(s)
Goryeo period, mid-14th century
Ink, color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 98.3 x 47.7 cm (38 11/16 x 18 3/4 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva, Buddhism, Goryeo period (918 - 1392), halo, Korea

To 1902Yamanaka & Company, to April 15, 1902 [1]From 1902 to 1903Charles Gillot (1853-1903), Paris, purchased from Yamanaka & Company on April 15, 1902 [2]From 1904 to 1919Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased through Siegfried Bing (1838-1905), from the sale of the Charles Gillot Collection, Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Collection Ch. Gillot: objets d'art et peintures d'extreme-orient, February 8-13, 1904, lot 2004 (ill.) [3]From 1920Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]Notes:[1] A label accompanying the painting indicates that Charles Gillot purchased the painting from the Japanese dealer, Yamanaka & Company, on April 15, 1902. See also, Curatorial Remark 8 in the object record, which states, "A paper accompanying the painting seems to indicate that Gillot had purchased the painting from the Japanese dealer, Yamanaka, in 1902."[2] See note 1. [3] See undated folder sheet note. See L. 31, Original Panel List, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. After Gillot’s death in 1903, a sale of his Asian art collection took place in February 1904 at the Durand-Ruel gallery in Paris. This object was purchased by Siegfried Bing for Charles Lang Freer at that sale (see Curatorial Remark 1 and Curatorial Remark 8, A. Yonemura, September 1983, in the object record). [4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source)
Siegfried Bing 1838 - 1905
Charles Gillot French, 1853 - 1903
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


This painting, executed in ink, colors, and gold on silk, follows the same Chinese prototype as numerous other surviving examples executed in Korea during the late Goryeo period. The willow branch is held in a small vase to the side of the Bodhisattva. The small figure in a devotional pose may represent an allusion to passage in the Avatamsaka sutra. The details of this painting, from the elegant pose of the deity to the delicate use of color to render elements of the costume are characteristic of Korean Buddhist painting at the peak of its development. Touches of gold highlight the landscapes in a typically decorative manner.

Published References

Ann Yonemura. Korean Art in Western Collections, 5: Korean Art in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 4, no. 2 Los Angeles, June 1983. no. 2, pp. 4-15.Donald S. Lopez Jr Rebecca Bloom. Hyecho's Journey: The World of Buddhism. Chicago, IL, December 2017. p. 69, fig. 5.Ernest Francisco Fenollosa. Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art: An Outline History of East Asiatic Design. 2 vols., London and New York. p. 122.Thomas Lawton Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 123, fig. 84.Korean Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Washington, D.C. nos. 7.1, 7.4, pp. 129, 134.Gaston Migeon Charles Gillot. Collection Ch. Gillot: Objets d'art et peintures d'Extreme-Orient. Paris. no. 2004, p. 223.Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Vol. 32, , No. 2. p. 243, fig. 32.5.Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 360.

Collection Area(s)
Korean Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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