Actor in the Role of a Samurai before a Shrine


Actor in the Role of a Samurai before a Shrine


Attributed to Utagawa Kuniyoshi
Japanese, 1798–1861


The principal damage in this study for a woodblock print attributed to Utagawa Kuniyoshi resides in the lower third of the sheet. The stain, typically called a tidemark, resulted from an exposure to moisture, which as it dried deposited a wave of discoloration. In drawings made by Western artists, commonly with insoluble ink, a tidemark can often be treated by simply bathing the sheet in distilled water. Japanese inks, though, are usually more aqueous in nature, and so their cleaning requires a good deal more care.

When Actor in the Role of a Samurai arrives in the conservation studio, the conservator will first remove the drawing from its support sheet, and then test it for solubility. If the ink displays the tendency to dissolve in water, she may opt to float wash it rather than immerse it fully in a bath. This involves laying the paper on the surface of a bath so just the verso (back) comes in contact with the washing solution. The stain is thus drawn out from behind, allowing the recto (front) to remain dry.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Gift of William E. Harkins




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Ink on paper; 12-1/2 x 10-7/8 in. (31.8 x 27.7 cm)