It’s all in the colour

Those following the story of our 18th century Japanese scroll’s journey to Restorient Studios in Leiden might be wondering what’s happening now.

You’ll remember that our 44 foot long painted scroll `Pleasures of the East’ by the Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa , dating from the early 1700s, secured funding from the Sumitomo Foundation for much needed conservation work.

Conservation work can be a very slow and meticulous process. Each of the colours of the scroll is being tested to make sure that the condition of the pigments is stable before conservation can even begin.

The pigments used are traditionally made in sticks and are called enogu; these are ground with a little water on an ink stone to prepare for use. The binder in the pigment is a deer glue size made by boiling deer skin.

If through age, abrasion or poor storage the binder in the paint layer breaks down the conservators must re-introduce more deer glue size to both strengthen the pigment and so that its bond to the paper surface is re-established.

Fortunately our conservators are reporting that the pigments of the scroll are in relatively good condition.


The photograph shows our conservator applying a 2% solution of deer glue size to vulnerable pigment.

Only then can the long process of removing the scroll’s paper linings begin …


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