Five Masterpieces of Asian Art tells a remarkable story of conservation efforts on two continents over the past five years. The masterworks, four from Japan and one from Korea, were gifted to SAM in the past and have recently undergone conservation treatment to revive their brilliance. The paintings were conserved separately in Nara, Kyoto, Tokyo, Seoul, and New York City, each by a leading conservator. This exhibition not only displays the artworks but also explains the repair process and the hidden information that was revealed during conservation.
Part of the iconic Poem Scroll with Deer is on view; the scroll was divided into separate sections after 1935 and is now owned by several institutions. An interactive computer kiosk in the gallery allows SAM visitors to see a digital reconstruction of the entire scroll and read English translations of the poems.
Also on display are SAM’s treasured Japanese Crows screens and Preaching Buddha, a magnificent seventeenth-century Korean painting, finally awakened from a long slumber in SAM’s storage. A Buddhist painting, White Path between Two Rivers, was formerly mounted behind glass in a Western frame; now, a hanging-scroll format allows fine details to be examined and the work’s subtle beauty to be truly appreciated. A rare example of a sixteenth-century screen, Bamboo Grove in Spring and Autumn, debuts at this exhibition.
—Yukiko Shirahara, John A. McCone Foundation Curator of Asian Art
Poem Scroll with Deer (Deer Scroll), 1610s, Tawaraya Sotatsu, Japanese, 1576 – 1643, Hon'ami Koetsu, Japanese, 1558 – 1637, handscroll: ink, gold and silver on paper, overall: 13 1/2 x 410 3/16 in., Gift of Mrs. Donald E. Frederick, 51.127, © Seattle Art Museum, photo by Seiji Shirono, National Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo