Japanese art treasure unearthed in Central Library

There’s been a lot of excitement surrounding the discovery of a rare Japanese eighteenth century handscroll painting among our collections.

Moromasa scrollFor decades the  44ft long scroll has been held in the Central Library without anyone realising its true significance. Now Edinburgh City Libraries and National Museums Scotland have submitted a joint application to the Sumitomo Foundation for conservation funding with the result expected in March.

The scroll, by Japanese painter Furuyama Moromasa, is over 44ft in length and depicts an extended street scene in C18th Edo, or Tokyo, showing shops, theatres and domestic detail of life at that time.

Dr Rosina Buckland, Senior Curator of National Museums Scotland’s Japanese collections, has worked with Edinburgh City Libraries to help interpret the scroll using her knowledge of the period.

She said: “This handscroll is a fascinating and important work. It presents a wealth of amusing and entertaining scenes of life in Edo (today’s Tokyo) around 1700, as well as plentiful information on the lively world of the popular theatre, and is the only known large handscroll painting by this artist.

Moromasa scroll 2“We very much hope that our funding application for specialist conservation work will be successful, so that the painting can be enjoyed by many people in Scotland, and beyond.”

The scroll was gifted to Edinburgh City Libraries in the 1940s by a relative of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan.

Learn more about the scroll, Henry Dyer and other treasures of the library on Capital Collections.

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