Rare painting found at library
Published 04/01/2013 | 13:35
A rare Japanese painting depicting early 18th century street life has been discovered in a library's special collections.
The 44ft scroll was donated in the 1940s but its significance has only just been realised by experts in Edinburgh.
It was painted by Furuyama Moromasa and could be the largest of his works anywhere in the world. Two other examples of his work are held by the British Museum.
The scroll depicts a street scene from Edo, which became Tokyo, showing shops, theatres and domestic life.
A funding application has been made to the Japan-based Sumitomo Foundation for conservation funding, with a result expected in March.
Dr Rosina Buckland, senior curator of National Museums Scotland's Japanese collections, helped to interpret the significance of the scroll which was held in Edinburgh Central Library's collection.
"This handscroll is a fascinating and important work. It presents a wealth of amusing and entertaining scenes of life in Edo around 1700, as well as plentiful information on the lively world of the popular theatre, and is the only known large handscroll painting by this artist," she said.
"We very much hope that our funding application for specialist conservation work will be successful so that the painting can be enjoyed by many people in Scotland, and beyond."
The scroll was donated by a relative of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer said to have played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan in the late 1800s.
Edinburgh councillor Richard Lewis said: "For many decades this scroll has been held in the central library special collections without anyone realising its true significance. It is only through the passion of our library staff and the knowledge of National Museums Scotland experts that this beautiful work has been brought to light."