The Library is currently closed, but we’re taking this time to do some much needed maintenance and project work. One of the things we have been meaning to do is make available on our website an archive of earlier Chantry Library Subject Bibliographies.  

We have several bibliographies which we plan to share online, starting with ‘Conservation of Japanese Prints’ by Celia Bockmuehl, Pamela de Tristan, Robert Minte, Shiho Sasaki, and Pauline Webber. This bibliography has not been updated, but we feel there is a timelessness to it and the choice of sources still stands. We at Chantry do not want to see this information lost and are pleased to share it with those looking to learn about Japanese prints and drawings.  

One of the original contributors, Pamela de Tristan, wanted to share a few additional sources that delve more deeply into the treatment of Japanese prints and drawings, an area she has specialised in since 1981. We’re very happy to give Pamela Chantry airtime to share her knowledge and expertise with you, and if you have anything to add please respond to her post.  

Military Men by Yoshitoshi (1839-1889) Synthetic aniline colourants and Prussian blue © P.deTristan 

I wanted to bring readers’ attention to several articles that focus on treatments that I have carried out on Japanese prints. I hope that along with the Subject Bibliography now online, this will be a good source of information for conservators with an interest in Japanese prints and drawings. 

‘The conservation of nine sumi drawings (c. 1833) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi the Japanese Ukiyo-e artist’, Conference Papers Manchester 1992, ed. Sheila Fairbrass, pp.24-29.  

This paper discusses the problems involved in the separation of brush drawings which were on very thin kozo paper, laid down in album form and stuck back to back. The drawings had some fugitive colourants and numerous pentimenti. Due to the fragility of the paper Gore-Tex was used in the humidification process. Consolidation of the degraded areas are described together with a comparison of methods for flattening heavy creases. Finally, the reattaching of the drawings to new secondary supports for storage are described. 

‘Analysis and conservation of aniline-dyed, nineteenth-century Japanese prints’, IPC Conference Papers London 1997, ed. Jane Eagan, pp.107-117.  

Aniline dyes discovered in 1856 by William Perkin in London were introduced into Japan for textile printing in the Meiji Period (1868-1912). These synthetic dyes replaced the natural dyes which had been used in the production of the woodblock Japanese print. The major conservation problem of the aniline-dyed print is its sensitivity to moisture; this paper presents three case studies that explore this problem. The majority of these prints were backed and placed in albums, and it is necessary to use water in conserving and unbacking these prints. In order to understand how best to conserve the Meiji prints, ten sample woodblock prints and ten colour swatches using aniline dyes were made by printmaker Paul Binnie for analysis and destructive testing. Our findings were that use of a gel of SCMC or MC produced enough moisture to unback a print so that no colourants bleed.  

‘The Japanese print: Re-integration methods’, The Postprints of the Image Re-Integration Conference 2003, ed. A. Jean E. Brown, pp.135-140. 

Four case studies are presented in this paper which deals with damage that disturbs the harmony of a print so that it cannot be appreciated without attention being drawn to visually distracting areas of staining or loss of image. This paper explores the role of re-integration in allowing the viewer to appreciate aesthetically a print, which was the artist’s intent. The first two case studies deal with comparative approaches to the reversal of oxidation on two prints, one from 1922 the other from 1889, with the aim of returning them to their former visual balance. The next case study deals with a print by Ando Hiroshige with considerable damage needing consolidation, repair and facsimile work which are described in detail. The final case study deals with mould damage to the support and image of a mica-ground Sharaku print dating to 1794-95. All facsimile work was undertaken with reference from an actual-sized reproduction of this important print. 

Pamela de Tristan ACR  


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