Academic thesis

Maria Katharina Plate: Around the world Five Times Folded: Art Technological Study and Conservation of a Japanese Folding Screen with a Kanō School Painting from the Edo Period Back
Language: Original   -   Translation
Abstract: The thesis focuses on the documentation and conservation of a Japanese folding screen. An unsigned painting from the Edo period attributed to the Kanō-school constitutes the main part of the screen. A general overview over its cultural context and the use and meaning of folding screens in Japan is given, possible origin and symbolic content of the painting are discussed and comparative works are presented. In addition to a detailed outline of the technological structure of the panels, materials and techniques are described and compared to traditional practices in Japan as recorded in the literature. A special focus is on green paint layers which include natural copper-based minerals containing arsenic components – a result which does not conform to published literature on traditional Japanese pigments. In general, the screen is in poor condition. Damages include a torn joint, pest infestation of the wooden lattice core, loose paint layers and extensive overpainting, which dramatically changes the perception of the work, especially in the area of the gilding. The backing paper is very fragile, torn and creased. When designing the conservation concept, discrepancies in conservation practices between Western and Japanese traditions are acknowledged. The resulting approach emphasizes on the preservation of all traces of manufacture and use and restrains conservation intervention to stabilisation measures and a harmonisation the artwork`s overall visual appearance. Subsequently, the pest infestation was treated with an oxygen free atmosphere, paint layers were consolidated, the joint was stabilized, overpainting in the gilded area were reduced using agar gel and gelatine, and selected areas were retouched.


Keywords: Japan, folding screen/ byōbu, Kanō-school, malachite/rokushō, cultural diversity, oxygen free atmosphere, reduction of retouching over gold leaf on paper
  • academic institution: Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
  • kind of theses:  Diplomarbeit
  • main Tutor:  Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Baatz
  • assistant Tutor:  Dr. Mag. Sigrid Eyb-Green
  • date:  2020
  • Language:  English
  • pages:  260
  • pictures:  205

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