Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, 2008

Discussing restoration plans at the studio

 ”Peacocks and Pine Tree” in the collection of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada, which is being restored this year, is a large folding screen believed to have been made in the first half of the 17th century. There are numerous damages on the folding screen and materials considered inappropriate for the restoration of traditional works of art, such as synthetic coloring materials, adhesives and western paper had been used for reinforcement in the past. To return the screen to a good condition as much as possible, a discussion of the details of the restoration plan was held at Bokunindo (Shizuoka city), the restoration studio, on August 4 (Mon) by the persons in charge there and four from the Institute – Kawanobe Wataru, Deputy Director of the Center for Conservation and Restoration Techniques; Kato Masato, researcher of the Technical Standard Section of the Center; Tanaka Atsushi, Director of the Department of Research Programming; and Emura Tomoko, researcher of the Department. Restoration of the folding screen is scheduled to be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

Panel exhibition of the restoration of Screens Illustrating Views of Kyoto and Its Environs at the lobby

Panel exhibition at the lobby (Photograph by Torimitsu Mikako)

 The Institute holds a panel exhibition regularly at the lobby on the first floor so that visitors to the Institute may better understand the results of our projects and research. Presently the exhibit is that related to Screens Illustrating Views of Kyoto and Its Environs (collection of the Royal Ontario Museum) that was restored under the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in fiscal year 2006. The various processes in its restoration and the results of art historical study on this pair of screens are introduced. Nijojo Castle and the Daibutsuden of Hokoji Temple are depicted on a grand scale on the left and right panels, respectively. Because of this construction, this particular pair of screens is believed to have been made in the mid-17th century. It is a very valuable work of art from the point of view of art historical study because of the detailed depiction of over 1,300 figures and the existence of 77 paper tags indicating the names of temples and scenic places. It is our hope that this exhibition may enable an understanding of the role Japan plays in international contribution and cooperation.

Investigation of the ways in which information on cultural properties is collected and publicized in England

Witt Library guest book, entry for January 18, 1924
At the office of Ms. Barbara Thompson, Witt Library

 For six days from March 3, 2008 three members of the Department – Yamanashi Emiko, Emura Tomoko and Nakamura Setsukobv – visited libraries and research organizations in England to investigate the ways in which materials are collected and publicized. Visits were made, within this short period, to Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, Witt Library of the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London, The British Museum, British Library, National Art Library of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. In addition to investigating their facilities, we exchanged opinions with researchers at each organization. Of these organizations, Witt Library, in particular, is one that is of special significance to the Institute since the first Director General of the Institute, Yashiro Yukio, is said to have felt the need for a library on materials related to art and obtained the idea for the founding of the Institute when he visited the Library, an extremely profitable experience in his own study of art history. According to the guest book at the Library, it was learned that Yashiro visited the Library nine times between 1924 and 1928. Such information was meaningful in understanding the situation surrounding the founding of the Institute and the significance of collecting and publicizing information on cultural properties. We hope to continue exchange in research and to make use of such opportunities in the utilization of materials and the management of libraries.

Publication of National Treasure: The Hikone Screen

The Hikone Screen, a report

 A report on the study of The Hikone Screen that was held jointly with the Hikone Castle Museum from 2006 to 2007 has been published. The work, which had been mounted as a framed work, was restored on full scale and remounted as a folding screen. Included in the report are photographs of the screen before and after restoration, and many high-resolution digital images, infrared images and luminescence images. Persons involved in the publication of this report made great efforts to provide as much information concerning this work of art as possible. For example, infrared images showing directions for the use of colors, which can be seen only underneath the paint layers, are compared with actual color images; data analyzed by X-ray fluorescence are compared with high-resolution data of corresponding points. We hope that this report may be utilized as fundamental material for the study of the screen. The report has been published from Chuo Koron Bijutsu Shuppan for the general public.

Investigation of the Hikone Screen

 The full-scale restoration of the Hikone Screen (collection of the Hikone Castle Museum), which took two years, was completed and the restored folding screen was exhibited to the public in a special exhibition held to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the construction of the castle. The Institute has held a joint investigation of the Hikone Screen with the Hikone Castle Museum from before the start of the restoration project. After the closing of the exhibition, photographs of the folding screen were taken and the condition of the surface that has been stabilized by restoration was investigated and documented by high-resolution digital images and near infrared images. A report on these results is in the final stage of editing for publication. New findings obtained through this investigation are expected to become valuable material not only for the study of the Hikone Screen but also for the study of the history of Japanese paintings as a whole.

Panel exhibition of the optical investigation of Hikone Byobu

Exhibition of the restored Hikone Byobu
Large panels introducing a part of the results of optical investigation

 Since the previous fiscal year, the Institute has been conducting a joint investigation and research of the national treasure Hikone Byobu with the Hikone Castle Museum. For over 100 years, this painting had been disassembled and mounted as six separate panels. Moreover, there were stains and the pigment layer was progressively flaking. Due to these reasons, two years were spent in conducting full-scale restoration as a part of the System for Protecting Cultural Properties and under the guidance of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. As a result, the painting was remounted as a folding screen. Since the restoration has been completed successfully, an exhibition of the restored folding screen was held as a part of the memorial project for the 400th anniversary of the construction of Hikone Castle. Part of the results of optical investigation conducted on this painting was also introduced in large panels during the exhibition, which was held from September 28 to October 26. Detailed images that allow one to observe the delicate and microscopic expressions brought about by extremely outstanding painting skills as well as directions for colors and under-drawings invisible to the naked eye attracted many visitors and were well-received by them. Presently, a report on the results of the investigation is being prepared for publication by the end of this fiscal year.

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