|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Installing the reproduced fusuma in the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
Reproduced fusuma of Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson dedicated to the main hall of Myōhōji Temple
As detailed in the monthly report for August 2021 (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/919761.html), the painting Hanshan and Shide by Yosa Buson (housed in Myōhōji Temple, Marugame City, Kagawa Prefecture) was damaged by scribblings made with marker on Shide’s face, and parts of Hanshan’s face were lacking; however, the appearance of the painting before the damage could be ascertained from monochrome photos taken by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) in 1959.
TOBUNKEN initiated a joint research project with Myōhōji Temple to create a reproduction of this painting before it was damaged using the aforementioned monochrome photos and contemporary imaging technology, mounted on fusuma (sliding doors), and dedicated it to Myōhōji Temple.
First, the outline of the monochrome photos was superimposed on high-resolution images of the current status of Hanshan and Shide to create a reproduced image of the painting before it was damaged. The image was then printed by splitting it on multiple sheets of washi (Japanese traditional paper) of the same size as the original. This part of the process was performed by TOBUNKEN.
Myōhōji Temple coordinated the mounting of the image on fusuma to accommodate it in the current main hall of the temple. The task of mounting the image on fusuma was carried out by SHUGO Co., Ltd, a studio member of the Association for Conservation of National Treasures (ACNT). The base of the fusuma was made using the same specification, techniques, and materials as those used for the designated cultural properties. The original metallic door pulls were also copied.
Mr. USUI Hiroaki of Kuroda Studio carefully conducted the final adjustment and fitting of the fusuma in the building. On November 22nd, 2022, the reproduced fusuma was successfully set inside the main hall.
The overwhelming effect created by the size and appearance of the fusuma after it was installed inside the main hall brought the brush touches of Yosa Buson and his pictorial universe to life. This is the first time TOBUNKEN has used old monochrome photos to create a reproduction of a painting. We hope that this project can serve as a reference for the future utilization of the vast volume of archives accumulated by TOBUNKEN over more than 90 years.
Discussion and Q&A session
Kuwayama Gyokushū (1746-1799) and Iwase Hirotaka (1808-1877) were painters who worked actively in Wakayama in the Edo period. Both of them left their own painting tools, including various pigments. This is important because they can be clues to identify coloring materials in the Edo era, such as the pigments. In addition, many of their artworks still exist now. This means that the coloring materials used for their actual artwork can be compared with the pigments in their painting tools, providing a valuable study target.
The 5th Seminar was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on September 15th, 2022, in TOBUNKEN and online, featuring the interim report of the coloring material analysis of pigments and paintings of Gyokushū and Hirotaka. First, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro, Deputy Director General reported the results of X-ray fluorescent and visible light reflectance analyses on the coloring materials of both artists. Then, new perspectives including the fact that both gofun (calcium carbonate) and enpaku (lead white) were applied as white pigments, and further challenges were presented. After that, YASUNAGA Takuyo, head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section discussed how Gyokushū used white pigments differently for human faces, as well as the issues of backside coloring referring to the painting of Tosui rakanzu (Luohans crossing the river). Next, Mr. KONDO Takashi of Kyoritsu Women’s Educational Institution introduced the biography of Hirotaka, who was first, an ukiyo-e artist and then became an artist of the FukkoYamato-e (Yamato-e revival) group later. Finally, Mr. KONDO discussed the relationship between Hirotaka’s artworks and the coloring materials referring to the painting of King Lanling and Nasori.
After the presentations, discussions among the three presenters and a Q&A session were held. An active discussion was conducted regarding the interpretation of the analysis results. The period between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries is important for the understanding of the transition of coloring materials. However, few analysis has been done on coloring materials, including pigments and those of artworks. Consequently, we expect that these studies will reveal the use of coloring materials in the mid and late Edo period.
Preparation for the survey
Discussion about the investigation parts
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems has been engaged in a series of surveys on Rakan-zu (a painting of Arhat, an enlightened Buddhist high priest) painted in the Yuan Dynasty, owned by the Baijōsan Kōmyōji Temple in Minato Ward, Tokyo. Please refer to our online monthly report for this survey. (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/910616.html)
Near-infrared imaging and fluorescence imaging produced by optical survey suggested that the new artificial iwa-enogu (mineral pigment used in paintings) could have been used to add colors on several parts of this painting.
It is expected that, in addition to the observation on the imaging data including high-definition imaging, scientific analysis survey can provide additional data from the different approaches. Then, we, INUZUKA Masahide, CHI Chih lien, TAKAHASHI Yoshihisa from the Center for Conservation Science, and EMURA Tomoko, YASUNAGA Takuyo and MAIZAWA Rei from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information System conducted a survey on Rakan-zu by reflectance spectrometry at the Baijōsan Kōmyōji Temple on January 19th, 2022.
Reflectance spectrometry can identify the kinds of coloring materials used in the work by reflectance spectrometry formation, how the reflectance of the surface against wavelength of light. Furthermore, hyperspectral camera, which we used this survey, shows the distribution of the same reflectance spectra in two dimensions simultaneously.
We plan to identify the materials and places for adding color by analyzing the data which we have gathered in this survey.
Damaged “Hanshan and Shide”
Myōhōji Temple, located in Marugame city, Kagawa prefecture, is known for the fact that Yosa Buson (1716-1783), a painter and haiku poet of the Edo era, visited it in 1768 and left many of his paintings there. His painting “Hanshan and Shide,” an Important Cultural Property, is damaged and Hanshan’s face is partially lost. Fortunately, the previous image including Hanshan’s face undamaged was retrieved from the monochrome films that were shot in the Myōhōji Temple by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) in 1959. It was recently found that the films showed the painting in its undamaged form.
TOBUNKEN conducted an investigation, photography project, and research study to reproduce this damaged painting placed on sliding doors (fusuma-e) as digital images based on the existing monochrome films and new images produced through this project.
Four researchers from the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems—SHIRONO Seiji, EMURA Tomoko, YASUNAGA Takuyo, and MAIZAWA Rei—visited the Myōhōji Temple from August 24th to 28th, 2021 for this research investigation and photography with sufficient infection control measures against COVID-19. The investigation targets were “Hanshan and Shide,” “Cycad,” “Landscapes,” “Bamboo,” and “Jurō (God of longevity),” all works of Yosa Buson. All paintings were shot in color, while “Hanshan and Shide,” “Cycad,” and “Landscapes” were also shot using infrared (IR) imaging. Furthermore, experts of sliding door making and cultural property conservation measured “Hanshan and Shide” sliding doors because the reproduced image of “Hanshan and Shide” will be mounted on sliding doors and placed in the main hall of Myōhōji Temple.
There are still challenges such as finding a way to convert the monochrome image into a color image. We would like to explore new ways to utilize the image materials accumulated by TOBUNKEN through this reproduction experience.
On July 7th and 21st, 2021, we surveyed and photographed cultural properties at Baijōsan Kōmyōji Temple in Minato Ward, Tokyo.
On July 7th, SHIRNO Seiji, EMURA Tomoko, YASUNAGA Takuyo, and MAIZAWA Rei (who belong to the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) conducted an optical survey of Rakan-zu (a painting of Arhat, an enlightened Buddhist high priest). In the previous fiscal year, we also surveyed and photographed the same painting and presented an overview, such as its history, at the eighth workshop of the Department of Art Research for fiscal 2020 (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/883416.html). In this latest survey, we used fluorescent photo shooting to check the storage conditions and expressions in more detail, such as the difference between the original portion and the portion touched upon later, which are difficult to detect with naked eye.
On July 21st, EMURA Tomoko, YASUNAGA Takuyo, and MAIZAWA Rei examined a painting of TAKEDA Unshitsu (1753-1827), a priest from Iiyama, Shinano Province. Unshitsu, the 26th head priest of Kōmyōji Temple, was a man of letters who excelled in poetry, writing, and drawing. He organized a poetry and writing association and interacted with many writers in the Edo period, including HIROSE Taizan and TANI Bunchō. Kōmyōji Temple has various works of Unshitsu, such as landscape paintings, paintings based on historical anecdotes, various written documents, as well and Sansuichō , a collection of his paintings. These are very valuable for learning about the activities and achievements of Unshitsu.
Founded in Kasumigaseki in the Kamakura period, Kōmyōji Temple relocated the building to its current location in the early Edo period. This ancient temple has a bell with an inscription, “Enpo 6” (1678), and a stone monument with an inscription, “Meiwa 9” (1772). Based on this survey, we will continue to conduct research on Rakan-zu and Unshitsu. We at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties will continue to actively conduct research on cultural properties that still remain in the community.
Gunsen kitsuun zu,
(Immortals eating clouds)
by TAKEDA Unshitsu, Bunsei 8 (1825)
A portion of the painting
The front cover of the research report
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) owns a total of 2,565 auction catalogues published from the Meiji Era to the Showa Era, which is the largest collection among those owned by public organizations. We have digitized them in collaboration with Tokyo Art Club since 2015 (refer to the Research Report for April 2015 https://www.tobunken.go.jp/
materials/ekatudo/206112.html) and started publishing them as the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive on May 2019 (refer to the Research Report for April 2019 https://www.tobunken.go.jp/
materials/ekatudo/817176.html). Further, in order to publicize this digital archive widely, we organized a seminar titled “The Auction Catalogue Digital Archive: Exploring the Potential of Auction Catalogues in Art Historical Research” on February 25, 2020. In this workshop, four people who participated from and outside of TOBUNKEN made presentations and curators and researchers who participated from various regions nationwide held discussion and question and answer sessions, which received a strong response and good reviews (refer to the Research Report for February 2020 https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/823156.html).
Against this background, centered on what was discussed in the workshop, we published the results of our five-year efforts at digitizing the auction catalogues in the form of a research report by adding parts on the significance of the auction catalogues that have been offered for review over the years as one of TOBUNKEN’s important collections, and the background of digitization. This contains: “An Overview of the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive” by YASUNAGA Takuyo (senior researcher at TOBUNKEN) as a project overview; and “Research on the History of Sculpture and Auction Catalogues” by YAMAGUCHI Ryûsuke (senior researcher at Nara National Museum), “The Use and Development of Auction Catalogues in the Tôrei Hijikata: A Retrospective Exhibition Held at Tottori Prefectural Museum” by YAMASHITA Mayumi (curator at The Hosomi Museum), “How to ‘See’ and ‘Read’ Auction Catalogues: Decorative Arts as an Example of the Use of the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive by TSUKIMURA Kino (curator at Fukuyama Museum of Art), and “Various Issues Regarding Early Modern Paintings that Emerge from the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive” by YASUNAGA Takuyo as discussions; as well as “The Process of Making Auction Catalogues Available to the Public at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties” by NAKAMURA Setsuko (former librarian at TOBUNKEN) and “The Function of the Systems Used in the Creation of the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive” By OYAMADA Tomohiro (researcher at TOBUNKEN) as reports.
We donated copies of the research report to major museums, art museums, libraries, and universities at the end of the last fiscal year. Let me encourage those who are interested to visit a library nearby to view the report.
Search screen of the auction artworks database
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TOBUNKEN) has been working jointly with Tokyo Art Club to create a digital copies of the auction catalogue (art catalogue) (visit https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/206112.html to see the monthly report for April 2015). The result was initially made available from May 2019 only at the Library as Auction Catalogue Digital Archive (visit https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/817176.html
to see the monthly report for April 2019). Starting from January 15th, 2021, part of the text data of the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive is now available on the website within the Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues page on TOBUNKEN Research Collections (https://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/information-search/auction-artworks/?lang=en).
The Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues makes public the text data of about 337,000 items listed in 2,328 catalogues issued prior to the end of World War II out of a total of 2,565 catalogues owned by TOBUNKEN. It is basically a database of text data from the artwork with pictures. The images of the items are not available, but searches can be done on the abundant text data included in the auction catalogue and are expected to be used for a variety of purposes.
The TOBUNKEN Library was normally open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but from the standpoint of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Library schedule was changed to Wednesdays and Fridays only for visitors with advance reservations from June 10th, 2020. Furthermore, following the state of emergency declaration on January 7th, 2021, the Library is now open only on Fridays since January 15th. Under these circumstances, the number of people who can use the Library is limited, resulting in increased needs for open access to the data. Going forward, we ask you to use both the Auction Catalogue Digital Archive for viewing images and Artworks on Japanese Auction Catalogues for text data accessible from all over the world in accordance with the purposes.
A scene from the presentation
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has provided its collection of 2,565 art catalogs issued from the Meiji period to the Showa period for public reading for many years. Due to the poor condition of the original art catalogs, we started their digitization jointly with the Tokyo Art Club in 2015 (refer to the April 2015 monthly report: https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/206112.html), and they were opened to the public as the Art Catalog Digital Archive in May 2019 (refer to the April 2019 monthly report: https://www.tobunken.go.jp/materials/ekatudo/817176.html).
For the 10th seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on February 25th, 2020, we invited three presenters, who introduced examples of utilization of art catalog digital archives in various fields under the title “Publication of the Art Catalog Digital Archive and Its Future Prospects–Toward New Utilization of Art Catalogs.” The first presentation titled “Utilization of Art Catalogs in the Studies of Buddhist Statues and the Significance of Their Publication” was delivered by Dr. YAMAGUCHI Ryusuke (Senior Researcher of Buddhist Sculpture at the Nara National Museum), the second one titled “Utilization and Development of Art Catalogs in the Exhibition of HIJIKATA Torei (at the Tottori Prefectural Museum)” was presented by Ms. YAMASHITA Mayumi (Curator at the Hosomi Museum), the third one titled “How to Utilize the Art Catalog Digital Archive in the Studies of Craftwork and Its Examples” was delivered by Ms. TSUKIMURA Kino (Curator at the Fukuyama Museum of Art), and the fourth one titled “Problems of Early modern Paintings from the Art Catalog Digital Archive” was presented by YASUNAGA Takuyo from the Institute. The seminar attracted an audience of around 50 people, including curators and researchers from all over Japan. After the presentations, the four presenters held an active discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of the digital archive, as well as its issues and problems. The presenters also answered questions from the audience. The questionnaire conducted at the venue showed that 87% of the audience was “very satisfied” with the seminar.
Memorandum signing ceremony for the opening and operation of the “Project to Create Digital Copies of Art Catalogues,” which was pursued in collaboration with the Tokyo Art Club
Dedicated terminal of art catalogue digital archive
An art catalogue is a brochure that is created in advance for selling items in individual and family collections at auction houses. It is an important resource listing the names and photographs of artworks that have been sold. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties possesses 2,565 art catalogues, the largest collection among public agencies. Until now, the Institute has enabled the public to view this art catalogue information at its Library, by attaching photographs to cards. However, as the storage conditions of the original art catalogues were bad, the Institute, in collaboration with the Tokyo Art Club, began a project to convert these art catalogues into digital format from 2015 (see the April 2015 monthly report). Through the support of the Tokyo Art Club and many others, the project was completed after approximately 4 years of hard work and is now being opened to the public as a digital archive.
The art catalogues recorded in the digital archive were created before World War II, including 2,328 catalogues in the collection of the Institute and 309 catalogues in the collection of the Tokyo Art Club for a total of 2,637 catalogues. In principle, the artworks selected for digital recording were those that were listed in art catalogues together with an image photograph, about 375,500 of which exist at this point in time. The digital archive is classified into bibliographic information and artwork information. Bibliographic information is information according to an art catalogue, whereas artwork information is information on individual artworks that can be viewed together with their photographic images. The Art Catalogue Digital Archive is open to the public during regular operating hours of the Library at the Institute, using a dedicated terminal. A variety of bits of information can be perused, and images and lists can be printed out for a fee (10 yen/page for black-and-white print outs and 50 yen/page for color print outs).
Conducting Research at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum
Fibers used in cultural properties come from a variety of sources including hemp, ramie, kudzu, and bashō (Japanese banana). As discussed in the May 2017 monthly report (Takuyo YASUNAGA, “Historical Position of ‘Hakubai-zu byobu’ by Goshun－A workshop is organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems”), we have learned in the more recent years that in addition to silk and paper, fiber is also used as the support medium in paintings. There are no well-defined, established methods of identification, however, in part due to the difficulty of discerning the characteristics of individual fibers once in textile state. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is working to find a solution to these and other problems, in a cooperative research effort into fiber identification among the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems; Center for Conservation Science; and Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
As a part of this research, the three-dimensional forms of fibers in a calligraphy work and a dyed article made of bashō-fu (textile woven from banana plant fiber) were examined using a digital microscope at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum from January 22nd to 23rd, 2019.
Bashō-fu is textile developed in Okinawa and Amami Islands and has been designated an important intangible cultural property, with Ms. Toshiko TAIRA recognized as an individual practitioner and Kijōka Bashō-fu Preservation Society recognized as a heritage protection organization. Of the work examined this time, the calligraphy work is known to have been created in a particular year and the dyed article is an item whose wearer can be guessed at. The examination showed that despite being all works thought to be made of bashō-fu, the look and the feel of the textiles varied due to differences in yarn density and yarn processing method.
While it is difficult to judge whether the differences are rooted in regional variation within Okinawa and Amami Islands or due to differences in use, we were able to conclude that many kinds of bashō-fu were created through different processes.
Accurate identification of fibers goes to the most basic data on a particular work, and is a key element in considering the circumstances of production. It is also a pressing issue in the organization of basic data for use in the present repair or the passing on to future generations of intangible cultural heritage.
We hope to continue furthering the research into identification of fibers through field investigations into techniques in conjunction with examination of exhibits at museums and art museums.
A scene from the lecture
Located in Norwich, the county capital of Norfolk, SISJAC is among the prominent institutions of studies on Japanese arts and culture in Europe. Since 2013, SISJAC and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been working on a joint project—“The Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art”—through which documents related to Japanese art that are written in English and published outside Japan are provided by SISJAC and made available on the Institute’s website. Also, as part of the project, researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have been visiting Norwich annually to hold consultation with SISJAC and conduct lectures on related topics. In fiscal 2018, two researchers, Tomoko EMURA and Takuyo YASUNAGA, visited Norwich from November 13th to 16th to achieve the mission.
During the consultation, various issues were addressed, including low number of access to the data provided by SISJAC and problems caused by special English characters and inconsistencies in romanized Japanese characters in entering data. In response, the Institute presented an estimate of the number of access to the data and its future policy to standardize the entry of special English characters and romanized Japanese.
On November 15th, YASUNAGA gave a lecture entitled “A pair of scroll paintings: The triple images of Yosa Buson’s ‘Kite and Crows’” at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral, with interpretation provided by Dr. Simon KANER, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The lecture was conducted as part of a regular lecture event focused on general audience and offered by SISJAC on every third Thursday of the month. This event enjoyed an attendance of about 80 people who listened with much enthusiasm, showing the popularity of Japanese art in the UK.
How a workshop is being conducted
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties organized a workshop on May 30, 2017, when Takuyo YASUNAGA (a researcher of the Dept.) gave a presentation on research titled the Historical Position of “Hakubai-zu byobu” by Goshun (housed by the Itsuo Art Museum).
After working as a disciple of Buson YOSA, Goshun (1752-1811) inherited Okyo MARUYAMA’s painting style. Goshun is known as a painter who established a painting school called the Shijyo school. One of his representative paintings, “Hakubai-zu byobu (the folding screen of white plum blossoms)” (an important cultural property) is a fantastical piece of work in which a small earth mound and three white plum trees that spread their branches are drawn on a pair of six-panel folding screens to which a coarse-grained fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns is applied. These screens are estimated to have been produced between 1787 and early years of the Kansei era (1789-1801) based on a technique called tsuketate he employed in drawing the branches of plum and a style of calligraphy for his signature. They are one of the examples that were created when Goshun changed his painting style from a Buson style to the Okyo counterpart.
As the initial step, YASUNAGA analyzed the expressions and materials of the painting meticulously, thereby shedding light on issues of incorporating an Okyo style in a painting on the subject of plum. He then went on to point out that a Nanpin style based on the learning of Buson’s paintings and an influence of Chinese paintings were identified in its unusual background expression on the fabric made from pale blue-dyed yarns. Furthermore, with respect to the use of a quite special base material that appears to be a cloth made from kudzu, YASUNAGA extrapolated the base material of the work through a comparison with some examples that use such cloth by other artists than Goshun. He also indicated that the use of such cloth was possibly associated with interaction between Goshun and men of letters in Ikeda. After his presentation, he was bombarded by questions about the use of this special base material and lively discussions were conducted on the possibility of its identification.
On February 23rd 2016 (Tue), a research presentation was made by Tomoko EMURA (Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) at the study meeting of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, which was titled “Korin’s works with the “Dosu” seal―Ogata Korin’s stay in Edo and a Change in His Painting Style.”
It has been said that the seals Ogata Korin (1658-1716) used on his paintings changed with his age. The seal used on the folding screen of “Irises” (Nezu Museum), which is one of his masterpieces of his early period, is the “Iryo” seal, while he used the “Hoshuku” seal on his later masterpiece “Red and White Plum Blossoms” screen (MOA Museum of Art). The “Dosu” seal was used during the period between the years when the “Iryo” seal was used and the years when the “Hoshuku” seal was used. During this period, Korin stayed in Edo a few times and it is believed that his painting style has changed during this period. There are other works of his with the “Dosu” seal, including the “Flowers and Grasses of the Four Seasons” handscroll painted in 1705 (Private Collection) with ink seal on the frame, the “Rough Waves” screen (the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and the “Azalea” hanging scroll (Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art). This time, especially focusing on the “A Budding Plum Tree” (Freer Gallery of Art), which is a six-panel screen that have been less known, the presenter has indicated that elements implying the change towards his later masterpiece “Red and White Plum Blossoms” screen are observed in it. The “A Budding Plum Tree” screen has many damages and bears traces of a lot of trial and error in his touch. Korin is believed to have learnt the black-and-white ink painting style during his stay in Edo and this experience could have affected the change in his painting style. The presentation was followed by a active discussion, where opinions were exchanged on possible relations with change of seals, shapes of his screens, and black-and-white ink painting style. A more detailed study on the “A Budding Plum Tree” screen is awaited.
The “A Budding Plum Tree” screen (Freer Gallery of Art) can be seen on the following website:
“Remarks of Old Paintings” Vol. 26, Portrait of Okamoto Zen’etsu (Source: Library of Tokyo University of the Arts)
On Tuesday, November 24, the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Ms. Hiroko Kato (Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) to give a presentation on her research under the title of “Updating of the Visual Arts and Iconography Led by Tokugawa Yoshimune – With a Focus on the Roles of Okamoto Zen’etsu Toyohisa.”
Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth shogun of the Edo Shogunate (1684-1751), is well known as an innovative yet reactionary politician. Also in the field of art, he encouraged the reproduction of Chinese masterpieces painted in the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, while allowing the import of Dutch oil paintings. He also ordered the reproduction of old paintings possessed by feudal lords and the sketching of rare animals from abroad. One of the leading painters who reproduced such old paintings and made such sketches is Okamoto Zen’etsu Toyohisa (1689-1767), who served Yoshimune as a painter in the Doubou rank. Ms. Kato introduced the fact that approximately 270 painting examples called Funpon, which had been formerly owned by the Hikone Family as a descendant of Zen’etsu, were included in the “Pictorial Materials of the Itaya Family” possessed by the Tokyo National Museum. Based on the existence of these materials, Ms. Kato pointed out the possibility that Zen’etsu might have played an important role in leading visual arts and iconography by communicating the intention of Yoshimune to the Kano and Sumiyoshi Families known as long lines of great painters. These issues clarify Yosimune’s perspectives on paintings, suggesting that Yoshimune’s views affected the style of the Kano school later by way of Zen’etsu through the accumulated example paintings. After the presentation, there was an animated discussion over the roles of Zen’etsu and his relation with Narushima Douchiku as one of the close advisors to Yoshimune like Zen’etsu. We expect further discovery of works created by Zen’etsu, who actually produced a few paintings only.
“Monkeys” painted by Kawanabe Kyosai, in the Kindai Nihon Gajo album of paintings possessed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
©The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Charles Stewart Smith Collection, Gift of Mrs. Charles Stewart Smith, Charles Stewart Smith Jr., and Howard Caswell Smith, in memory of Charles Stewart Smith, 1914
The Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held a monthly workshop on the topic and with the presenters mentioned below on June 4.
– Takuyo Yasunaga (researcher at the department): About “Sansui Zukan,” said to have been painted by Gion Nankai (possessed by the Tokyo National Museum)
– Ms. Eriko Tomizawa-Kay (Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures) “Modern Japanese-style painters observed in collections of paintings outside Japan and their drawing activities – mainly about the establishment and acceptance of ‘Kindai Nihon Gajo (commonly known as the Brinkley Album)’ ”
On the topic of “Sansui Zukan,” a painted scroll in the Edo period that is said to have been painted by Gion Nankai and depicting the Kumano pilgrimage routes running from Wakayama to the Nachi falls via Nakahechi, Hongu, and Shingu, Ms. Yasunaga discussed the possibility of the work having been painted by Gion Nankai [1676-1751], based on the geographically accurate depiction of Kumano and the characteristics of its expression by comparing the scroll with Nankai’s other newly found works and other measures. In addition, she also pointed out the scroll’s relationship with the learning activities of Chinese paintings by early Japanese bunjinga (literati painting) painters and new expressions of actual sceneries. However, attendees of the workshop provided various remarks such as the issue of whether the painting scroll was just a sketch and the relationship with other paintings of the same age.
Ms. Tomizawa made presentations based on the survey of “Kindai Nihon Gajo” possessed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While paintings included in this gajo are separated individually at present, it originally consisted of 95 paintings created by seven Japanese-style painters who were active in the Meiji era, including Kawanabe Kyosai, Hashimoto Gaho and Kawabata Gyokusho. Ms. Tomizawa’s research revealed that dealer and collector Francis Brinkley (1841-1912) originally asked Kyosai to create an album of 100 paintings. However, as Kyosai died in 1889, the creation of the album was divided among the other six painters, according to her research. Charles Stewart Smith, a prominent U.S. entrepreneur who stayed in Japan in 1892 and 1893, purchased the album from Brinkley and Smith’s bereaved family donated the album to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The album remains in the museum’s possession to this day.
Among the paintings included in the album, 12 painted by Kyosai were temporarily returned to Japan and exhibited along with their sketches (possessed by the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum) at the exhibition “KYOSAI-Master painter and his student Josiah Conder” held at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo from June 27 to Sep 6. The elaborate brushworks are prominently respected among other paintings in the album, so we recommend that you see them on this occasion.
During the Conference
On June 30 (Tue.), the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems invited Mr. Matthew Mckelway, professor at Columbia University, and held a workshop titled “NAGASAWA Rosetsu before his Sojourn in Nanki (Kii Province): His Relations with Temples of the Zen Sect”.
Rosetsu Nagasawa (1754～99) is a painter who was active in the mid-Edo period. Substituting for his master Okyo Maruyama, Rosetsu visited several temples of the Zen sect in the southern Kii Province (Nanki) from 1786 to 1787. Rosetsu is known as having drawn a large number of sliding panel paintings during his sojourn of a few months. His experience in Nanki gave him significant momentum to obtain his own painting style. However, there are quite a few unclear points over Rosetsu’s movements and painting education before his sojourn in Nanki.
Based on a detailed analysis of a sanja (person who appreciates the work and writes an appraisal of it) of Rosetsu’s works currently possessed in overseas countries and his collaborative works, among other materials, Mr. Mckelway pointed out that Rosetsu had had close relations with Zen monks at Myoshin-ji temple such as Shikyo Eryo and Shishin Sogin since before his sojourn in Nanki. By examining the motifs of Rosetsu’s sliding panel paintings at temples in Nanki with this fact in mind, Mr. Mckelway also pointed out the possibility that Rosetsu was inspired by a sliding panel painting at Myoshin-ji temple. Given that the current research on Rosetsu lacks works before his sojourn in Nanki, Mr. Mckelway offered a very significant and attractive theory. After his presentation, there was an active exchange of views on Rosetsu’s works in overseas countries introduced by Mr. Mckelway. Such a presentation about works possessed in overseas countries provided important information to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and we expect further progress in the research in the future.
Signing of an agreement between the Institute and the Tokyo Art Club
An art catalogue is a brochure that is handed out before items in an individual or a family’s collection are sold at sale place on a certain date. An art catalogue features photographs and it lists the name and medium of artworks such as paintings, calligraphic works, and art objects. Such a catalogue is a vital source with which to determine an artwork’s provenance. Such catalogues enjoy a limited distribution, so only a handful of facilities nationwide curate auction catalogues as a whole.
In its collection, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has a total of 2,532 art catalogues that were printed from the late Meiji Era to the Showa Era. The Institute has the largest number of these catalogues among public repositories in Japan. The Tokyo Art Club has long been involved in the sale of artworks since its founding in 1907.Over this period, the Tokyo Art Club has amassed a number of catalogues it has published.
In the past, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo recorded information in art catalogues on cards with attached photographs and made these cards available to researchers in the Institute’s Library. However, original art catalogues were often poorly preserved. Thus, the Institute joined with the Tokyo Art Club to start a project to create digital copies of art catalogues.
This project will fully reproduce older art catalogues (i.e. catalogues printed prior to 1943) in the collections of the Institute and the Tokyo Art Club in digital format. These images and information will then be shared in an effort to preserve these important sources.
Reproducing images and information in these art catalogues in digital format should further enhance databases of important materials in the Institute’s collection.