Edinburgh Library's rediscovered handscroll painting secures Japanese conservation grant

By Culture24 Reporter | 02 June 2014

A rare Japanese handscroll which lay undiscovered in the depths of Edinburgh Library for over 50 years is to be restored thanks to a grant from Japan

a section of a scrollwork showing Japanese life in the eighteenth century
Japanese handscroll painting from 1710-1730 by Furuyama Moromasa 'Pleasures of the East', rediscovered in the special collections at the Central Library, Edinburgh. Street scenes of old Tokyo, Edo© Courtesy Edinburgh City Library
A rare 18th Century Japanese handscroll painting discovered in Edinburgh Central Library in 2012 is to be conserved and displayed thanks to a grant from The Sumitomo Foundation.

At over 44ft in length, the scroll, titled Pleasures of the East, is thought to be the largest painting by Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa ever discovered. 

It depicts in minute detail the daily lives of eighteenth century citizens of Edo (Tokyo) going about their business and was gifted to Edinburgh City Libraries by a relative of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan,

But its true significance was only realised through a partnership with experts at National Museums Scotland.

“This Japanese handscroll is a wonderfully lively and beautifully painted work,” said Dr Rosina Buckland, Senior Curator of National Museums Scotland's Japanese collections.

“It is around 300 years old and therefore needs urgent conservation attention. The financial support from the Sumitomo Foundation is crucial in ensuring this important artwork is cared for in the long term.”

The Foundation’s  Grant for the Protection, Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties outside Japan is worth 500,000 Japanese Yen (approximately£20,400) and is awarded to projects involving old and artistically or academically valuable artefacts.

Once the treatment is complete, the handscroll will be available for scholars to study, and for the public to enjoy on display.

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Furuyama Moromasa's 44-foot Tokyo scroll rediscovered at Edinburgh Central Library

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