#1850 Japanese Album

About four years ago, when I thought I’d finished inventorying and cataloging Jim’s better collections, we opened one last drawer in his study — the drawer where he kept trinkets and curios he used for gifts. Beneath the parrot brooches and the scuba-diver toys, we found a few “lost” treasures, including this one — 25 19th-century Japanese paintings and calligraphies, each by a different artist, collected into a traditional accordian-style album, about 8 inches square. The art works appear to have had lots of worm holes prior to being pasted into the album, so I think it falls into the category of shuga-jo — an album of work gathered by a collector (as opposed to being assembled by one artist or a group of artists themselves).

Vague memories surface. I can’t find a receipt, but memory suggests Jim bought it from a dealer-friend in London when we visited there circa 1980. Not too long after that, Jim was cash-strapped and sold it to me. I stowed it with my own few treasures. Years later — 1993 — when we finally got married and moved in together, I decided the album should be stored with similar things in Jim’s space. He put it in the famous bottom drawer.

Finding it was a surprise, like running into a long-lost friend.

Mouse sumi-e by Shibata Zeshin
detail from one of the album paintings, by Zeshin (1807-1891)

But only now am I getting around to photographing it and putting it into our catalog.

I posted the album on Flickr to reach the broadest audience, maybe even finding someone who can translate a bit or provide some commentary. Click the link or image below to see it.

Japanese Painting Album #1850

The beauty of too much stuff, plus faulty memories over the arc of time, is that you can delight in the rediscovery of old friends. Wine poured.

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