Japanese handscroll returns from conservation

Last week, we unveiled a rare and beautiful early 18th century Japanese handscroll, which has returned to Edinburgh Central Library after a two year restoration process in the Netherlands.

We found the 300-year-old painted scroll, created by Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa, in our special collections in 2012 – it had lain unnoticed for many years.

We worked with National Museums Scotland to secure funding from the Sumitomo Foundation to restore the scroll to its former glory. Restorient Studios, specialist restorers based in Leiden, the Netherlands, did the work. They relined the scroll, consolidated the pigments to reduce the impact of aging, and they provided a custom-made silk casing.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Culture and Sport Convener, said, “It is fantastic to see this striking painting so beautifully restored, thanks to generous funding from The Sumitomo Foundation.

“It is also down to the enthusiasm of libraries staff, alongside National Museums Scotland’s curators, that this artwork has been rediscovered and given the attention it deserves.”

Dr Rosina Buckland, Senior Curator, National Museum of Scotland, said: “Edinburgh Central Library holds a rare and beautiful Japanese painting, created three hundred years ago, presenting the theatre district of historic Tokyo (then known as Edo).

“To ensure their preservation, East Asian paintings must undergo a complex process of remounting periodically. We are extremely grateful to the Sumitomo Foundation for generously funding this delicate and specialized conservation work, which will allow the painting to be put on display for the public’s enjoyment.”

DSC_3450 copyscroll image

The scroll is called ‘Theatres of the East’, and it shows a street scene in the theatre district of Edo, Tokyo. The daughter of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major role in revolutionising the Japanese education system, donated it to the Central Library in 1945.

Now that the scroll has been restored, it will go on public display in the National Museum of Scotland’s new East Asia Gallery from 2018.

Images of the scroll before its restoration are currently available to view on the Capital Collections website.

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