A survey of Yokoyama Taikan’s Yamaji (Eisei Bunko collection) from front to back

Yokoyama Taikan’s Yamaji (Eisei Bunko collection), Imaging of the back of the painting

 As reported last October, the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems is conducting joint research with Eisei Bunko on Yokoyama Taikan’s Yamaji (the Mountain Path) as part of a research project entitled Documentary Research on Cultural Properties. Taikan’s Yamaji in Eisei Bunko’s collection was exhibited at the 5th Bunten Art Exhibition (sponsored by the Ministry of Education) in 1911 and is an important work that inaugurated new forms of expression in Japanese painting with its vivid strokes. After the piece was studied last fall, it was restored by one of the Kyushu National Museum’s conservation facilities. The mounting was dismantled, the cover was removed, and the back side of the painted silk cloth was visible, occasioning a second survey on December 9th with the aid and cooperation of the Museum and the Association for Conservation of National Treasures, which supervised the restoration. Looking at the picture through the thin silk cloth from the back revealed a process of manufacture that was not apparent from the front. The piece’s characteristic brownish tint to represent leaves in fall appears to have been dotted on later on, but the survey of the back of the piece revealed that the color was applied in an earlier stage of the piece’s production.
 The current survey team included MIYAKE Hidekazu of Eisei Bunko; HAYASHIDA Ryuta of the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, which curates Yamaji; ARAI Kei and TAIRA Yuichirou of the Tokyo University of the Arts, both of whom were on the previous survey team; and SHIRONO Seiji and SHIOYA Jun of the Institute. Mr. SHIRONO took high-resolution images of the back of the painting. Such an imaging survey of a piece during its restoration is rare. The back of the painting is not visible unless the painting is removed from its mounting, so images of the back provide extremely valuable information.

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