Rare Japanese scroll restored to former glory

The first year of the restoration of a rare and valuable Japanese handscroll, which was discovered within Edinburgh’s Central Library special collections, has been a success.

The 300 year old scroll, entitled 'Theatres of the East', 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.

At over 44ft in length, the scroll is believed to be one of the largest paintings ever discovered by Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa. Central Library’s scroll depicts an extended street scene in C18th Edo, or Tokyo, showing the shops and theatres and domestic detail of life at that time.

The work began in May 2014 at the Restorient Studios in Leiden in the Netherlands, which specialises in restoring oriental art on silk and paper. Once finished, it is expected that the scroll will be studied by scholars and then placed on public display at the National Museums of Scotland.

Edinburgh City Libraries was awarded a grant worth around £20,400 from Japan’s The Sumitomo Foundation to restore and conserve the artwork.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Thanks to the funding from The Sumitomo Foundation, we are restoring Moromasa’s beautiful painting to its former glory. The work has been painstakingly carried out by world experts and once the project is complete, this important piece of art will be a wonderful addition to Edinburgh’s existing collection.”

Find out more about Edinburgh City Libraries Special Collections.

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