New Light on Japanese Painting: Recently Conserved Screens and Scrolls – Part 2

October 19, 2012 - January 6, 2013

Plum tree covered in snow

This exhibition, the second of two consecutive installations, provides an up-close look at recently conserved Japanese hanging scrolls and folding screens, dating from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries, accompanied by revelatory and fascinating details about their conservation.

With the advice and support of world-renowned expert Sherman Lee, the Ackland assembled a remarkable collection of high quality Japanese paintings, often in spite of serious condition problems. The conservation of the Museum’s best screen and scroll paintings has been a longtime goal. Many of the pieces were acquired in fragile condition, at risk of further damage each time a scroll was unrolled or a screen unfolded. During the past three years, nineteen of the Ackland’s most significant and beautiful scroll and screen paintings have been conserved and remounted by the Nishio Conservation Studio in Washington, DC.

The conservators of Nishio Conservation Studio are masters of their craft who combine traditional Japanese materials and practices with a modern understanding of chemistry and professional commitment to documentation. Previously soiled, creased, and broken paintings have been removed from their multi-layered mounts to be cleaned, smoothed, and made secure. Losses in the original silk or paper have been filled with tiny inserts of silk or paper dyed to match and carefully cut to fill the holes without overlapping any of the original. New mounts were created using traditional silk brocades in proportions appropriate to each painting.

We thank the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Sumitomo Foundation, The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Office of the Provost at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shirley Drechsel and Wayne Vaughn, and the docents of the Ackland Art Museum for their generous support of this conservation project. We are currently seeking funding for an additional four paintings to be conserved and remounted by Nishio Conservation Studio.

Image Credit: Takaku Aigai, Japanese, 1796-1843: Snow-covered Plum Tree (detail), early to mid-19th century; hanging scroll with color on paper. Gift of Ruth and Sherman Lee. 2003.35.11.