Since our “Behind the Scenes in Conservation” posts have been so popular on social media, we’ve decided to give them more room to shine (and analyze and treat and conserve)! Each week, our conservation team highlights a project from one of their four specialty areas (paper, objects, textile or paintings conservation), giving you an exclusive look into the lab.
Another masterpiece of Japanese art was recently in the Paper Lab. This hand scroll by Ogawa Haritsu (1663-1747) shows warblers and frogs anthropomorphically depicting human poets. Distortions at the end of the scroll, a result of the paper having been tightly rolled for more than 100 years, combined with lining papers that had partially detached from the back of the painting, needed to be reduced. The paper conservator humidified the distorted areas to relax the paper and dried the treated areas under light pressure. Flattening was complicated because the layers of paper had expanded to different degrees after separating and no longer fit together perfectly; too much weight on the humidified paper could cause creases as it dried. See more of the frog poets in “Masterpieces of Japanese Art” in G234-235.
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