Lost Japanese screen paintings of Queen Victoria recovered in the Royal Collection

A pair of lost Japanese folding screen paintings sent to Queen Victoria in 1860 as part of a lavish diplomatic gift have been rediscovered in the Imperial Collection.

His displays, which are said to be defunct, will go public next month for the first time since they appeared more than a century and a half ago.

Extensive conservation work since they were found has revealed curious details about their history.

It was discovered that railway timetable pieces were used to patch the pieces while they were on display at Windsor Castle during Victoria’s reign.


Victorian railway schedules used for display repairs (Royal Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II 2022 / PA)

The timetable used to glue up the torn areas, most likely due to the lack of availability of Japanese replacement paper, and the stations listed starting at Windsor, suggests repairs may have taken place. out at the castle.

Rachel Peat, curator of the exhibition Japan: Courts and Culture, said: “After decades of believing that these important gifts were lost, this rediscovery has special significance.

“The pictures on the screen mark a new era of diplomacy between Japan and Great Britain and bring the vivid beauty of Japan’s changing seasons to the heart of the British court.

“I am delighted that visitors will see them on display for the first time, just as they were seen by Queen Victoria for the first time.”


Display depicting Mount Fuji ((Imperial Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II 2022 / PA)

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The pictures on the display depict the different seasons, showing Mount Fuji in spring with cherry blossoms, and the Miho no Matsubara scenic area of ​​the Miho peninsula covered with pine and maple trees autumn red.

The pieces were part of the first diplomatic gift between Japan and Britain in nearly 250 years.

Eight pairs of front paintings were sent by Japanese shogun Tokugawa Iemochi shortly after Japan reopened to the West, after more than two centuries of deliberate isolation.

The luxurious gift to Victoria marked a landmark treaty that reopened seven Japanese ports and cities to British trade and allowed a British diplomat to reside in Japan for the first time.


Details on display (Royal Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II 2022 / PA)

But the displays were mistakenly cataloged as Japanese works by an unknown artist upon their arrival, and their links to Shogun Iemochi and their historical significance have been lost.

The curators of the Royal Collection Trust raised the possibility that they might still exist during research for the exhibition Courts and Japanese Culture, and Dr Rosina Buckland, curator of the Japan Collection at the Museum British Museum, translated the artist’s signature on two screens.

The signature and style were compared with those received by other European monarchs at the same time.


The second of a pair of folding screen paintings with the theme of Miho-no-Matsubara scenes (Imperial Collection / HM Queen Elizabeth II 2022 / PA)

It was also discovered that the pieces – with two to three layers of paper instead of the usual six to nine – were hastily produced, possibly because a major fire at Edo Castle in Tokyo destroyed the pieces. original versions before they are sent out. to Victoria.

The displays will form part of Japan: Courts and Culture, the first exhibition to bring together Japanese artworks from the Imperial Collection, opening at the Queen’s Gallery, Palace Buckingham on April 8.

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/queen-victorias-lost-japanese-screen-paintings-rediscovered-in-royal-collection-41422605.html Lost Japanese screen paintings of Queen Victoria recovered in the Royal Collection

Fry Electronics Team

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