Thu, Jul 30, 2020

Nagasawa Rosetsu’s ink brush painting in Jojuji removed from partition for repairs

Repair experts carefully carry the painting away from the partition before placing it on the floor. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Repair experts removed an ink brush painting by Edo-period artist Nagasawa Rosetsu (1754-99) from a partition in the main hall of the Jojuji temple in Kushimoto, Wakayama Pref., on July 20. The centuries-old artwork was then delivered to the Kyoto National Museum, where it will undergo repair work.

The repair work is supported by the Tsumugu Project, a private/public sector alliance initiated by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, Imperial Household Agency and national daily The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo).

Rosetsu, a painter of the Maruyama school, is said to have produced a number of paintings in temples including Jojuji during his sojourn in southern Wakayama in 1786-87. At Jojuji, the artist left several paintings on 45 partitions (collectively registered as an important cultural property), almost all of which were fusuma sliding doors.

In more recent years, the paintings were removed from 44 of the 45 partitions and entrusted to the Wakayama Prefectural Museum for conservation. The remaining piece, however, had to stay, as it was pasted securely onto a wall. Since then, repair experts have developed ways to remove fragile paintings from walls.

Rosetsu’s ink brush painting of Rin Nasei (partial) on a partition inside the main hall of Jojuji before its removal (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Eight of the 45 partitions constitute a work by Rosetsu depicting Northern Song dynasty poet Rin Nasei. The remaining piece is a part of this work.

On July 20, repair experts arrived from Kyoto and worked carefully for about 40 minutes to remove the remaining piece (1.87 meters by 1.75 meters) from the wall.

The painting was delivered by a van to a repair facility inside the Kyoto National Museum on the same day.

Repair experts carefully remove the painting from the wall. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

The head priest said he was sad to let the last one go, but delighted the much-needed repair is now underway.

“A work of art like this will never emerge again. It deserves to be passed down to future generations and should be seen by many.”

Experts roll up the painting for transportation after covering it with thin paper for protection. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

A curator from the prefectural museum said: When the repair work is finished, the museum is hoping to put the entire painting of Rin Nasei on display.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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