Doves and Pear Blossoms, a Chinese hanging scroll on view since September, recently came off view in Gallery 138. Before returning it to storage, our paper conservator needed to make some changes to ensure that the painting would be safe until the next time it is unrolled for display. Sharp horizontal creases through the fine silk of the painting and through the silk borders above and below the painting, visible when the painting is unrolled, are evidence of stresses caused by repeated unrolling of the 18th century painting.
To partially alleviate the stresses, the scroll was rolled around a “futomaki” made of an acid-free cardboard tube which enlarged the diameter of the rolled scroll. The wrapping cord, the ribbon used to secure the scroll when it is rolled, was frayed and was too short. The old ribbon was replaced and was cushioned with a piece of Japanese paper to help prevent the ribbon from creasing the scroll if it is tied too tightly. Finally, our conservator constructed a box of acid-free cardboard to fit the scroll, protecting it from any changes in the environment while in storage. Each of these changes improves the chances that the painting will be preserved for the enjoyment of many generations of museum visitors in the future.
Credit: 2105.236, Yu Yuan (Chinese, active Late 17th Century), Doves and Pear Blossoms, Qing Dynasty 1644 - 1911 A.D. (18th century), ink and colors on silk, Gift of Dr. Robert Kemper