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Man in Korean Costume
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Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish, Antwerp, about 1617
Black chalk with touches of red chalk in the face
15 1/8 x 9 1/4 in.
83.GB.384

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Peter Paul Rubens probably made this study of a man in Korean costume as an independent work of art. Since contact between Europe and Korea was almost non-existent in Rubens's time, how he came into contact with Korean silk robes and transparent headdress in Antwerp remains a mystery.

In the background, Rubens sketched a small boat to emphasize a distant place, but he was clearly more interested in the costume than in providing a detailed setting.

The drawing is one of Rubens's most meticulous depictions, enriched by touches of red chalk added to the man's face. Fascinated by the play of light on the silk, Rubens juxtaposed black chalk and white paper to create the man's shimmering costume. This drawing later inspired one of the central figures in Rubens's painting The Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.