Album of textile fragments

The accordion-fold Japanese album preserves 314 fragments of Chinese and Japanese textiles dating from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century. Each fragment is labeled in ink on a separate slip of paper. Both sides of each page are used. This format is known as a meibutsugire-chō, “album of fragments of famous textiles.” The size of many of the long, narrow strips suggests the album was composed sometime in the nineteenth century using neatly cut remnants from old mountings, a common practice in mounting studios at the time.

Mrs. Robert B. Tatin, whose husband served during the occupation of Japan following World War II, purchased this album of rare and diverse textiles. She took the album to the Tokyo National Museum and requested Yamanobe Tomoyuki (1906–2004), the curator for textiles, to assist in identifying its contents. Mr. Yamanobe produced a thoroughly annotated catalogue of the album’s fragments, including his own thoughts about their dating. Collotypes of the bound typescript and a handwritten letter from Mr. Yamanobe, dated 1950, accompany the album; he likely kept the originals.

Three other albums in the Freer Gallery collection relate closely to the activities of two painting mounters from the Miura family studio in Kyoto. The Miura brothers worked with Charles Lang Freer to prepare Japanese and Chinese paintings in his collection for display in his proposed museum. One album in a wooden box (F1917.429) may have been made in Japan by the Miura family. They possibly used it in their conservation studio, although the Miura brothers presented it to Freer when they began working with him. They prepared the other two albums (F1917.430, F1917.431) while they were in the United States. Those albums likely preserve samples of textiles that were removed from paintings during remounting at Freer’s request.

Collage of textile fragments with Japanese writing and floral motifs.Album of textile fragments
Japan, Edo period or Meiji era, 19th century
Cardboard with silk and paper
Gift of Alan Kennedy
Freer Gallery of Art, F2017.11.1, F2017.11.2