Geungjae (兢齋) Kim Deuk-shin (金得臣, 1754~1822) was a painter from the Yeong, Jeong, and Sun Dynasties. Born to the Kaesong Kim clan, a noble painter family of the late Joseon Dynasty, he entered the Dohwaseo in his teens and, for more than 44 years, played critical roles of a major painter, living the typical life of a painter during the late Joseon Dynasty. In addition to his well-known genre painting, he was one of the best painters of his time, presenting outstanding skills in almost all genres, including landscapes, figures, furry animals and flowers and birds. Nevertheless, many viewed him with limited perspectives, such as “a painter whose major inspiration was Kim Hong-do” and “a painter only known for genre painting.” Focusing on these aspects, this paper intends to reconstruct Kim Deuk-shin’s life and his influence on Korean painting history.
Born to the Gaesong Kim clan and Shinpyung Han clan, both noble painter families of the late Joseon Dynasty, Kim Deuk-shin received rigorous education from an early age and became an official Dohwaseo painter in his teenage years. After the establishment of Jabidaeryungw hawon (the best painters of their time, temporarily recruited for royal court assignments in the late Joseon period) by Gyujanggak, he was recruited as one of the first Jabidaeryungwhawon and devoted himself to Gyujanggak activities for the next 37 years. He was known to be diligent in all his tasks, small or large, in addition to major painting duties including Gamdong (監董, a temporary official post to supervise and manage special projects such as civil engineering works or publication of books), royal portrait painter for Jeong Dynasty, and production of Hwaseongwonhaengdobyeong. With his talent and attitude, he was a trusted painter, being appointed several times as an official (burok, 付祿) during both Jung and Sun Dynasties.
In addition to his official duties, Kim Deuk-shin was also active in his private works. He grew himself as a painter by interacting with important artists of the Joseon Dynasty, such as Kim Eung-hwan who came from a similar background, as well as Kim Hong-do and Lee In-moon. He received private orders through these personal relations, resulting in general paintings of various genres, as evidenced by his works such as Gosangugok-sihwabyeong and Hanjgangjooyouaheokdo cheob.