For about sixty years, the Fine Arts Section of the Department of East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo has, since the time of emeritus professor Suzuki Kei, the second section head, been investigating and photographing Chinese paintings around the world. On the basis of the pictorial material that had been investigated and collected, there was first published the Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Painting (5 vols., 1982–83), followed by a second series (4 vols., 1998–2001). The publication of the first series evoked a massive response, and, imitating its format, there was published in mainland China the Illustrated Catalogue of Selected Works of Ancient Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in 24 volumes, compiled by the Group for the Authentication of Ancient Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy (Wenwu Chubanshe, 1986–2001), and in Taiwan the Illustrated Catalogue of Painting and Calligraphy in the National Palace Museum in 32 volumes, compiled by Taipei National Palace Museum (Taipei National Palace Museum, 1989–2013). It could be said that for the first time it became possible to gain a bird’s-eye view of information about the whereabouts of premodern Chinese paintings scattered around the world, and their full extent began to become apparent. This represented the building of an academic foundation, of utmost necessity for the study of art history, and it goes without saying that this project made a major contribution to the establishment of scholarly consensus in this field. Subsequently, when the second series was published, the Fine Arts Section established its position as a base for conducting continuing investigations, and at the same time it was acclaimed as an indispensable publication for surveying extant Chinese paintings.
The third series is based on the findings of worldwide investigations carried out under emeritus professor Ogawa Hiromitsu, and publication began in 2013 (and is expected to be completed in 2020). In these investigations, first their spatial scope was extended to public art galleries in Sydney and elsewhere in Oceania. In addition, their temporal scope was partially extended to the modern period with the aim of making it possible to see how traditional painting had changed in modern times. The aim was to encompass collections from a wider area and works from a longer span of time so as to show how these endeavours have continued down to the present day. At the same time, by reflecting thereby the state of the market for Chinese paintings, which has been vibrant in recent years, and the accompanying brisk circulation of art works, it presents a new perspective for the study of the history of Chinese painting.
Volume 4, covering Asia and Oceania, contains approximately 900 works held by fourteen institutions. The works from modern China held in Hong Kong and Taiwan reveal the full extent of some important old and new private collections, and they include many works that are indispensable for research on the Haishang school, etc. In addition, works from Australia were included for the first time, some of which had arrived in Australia via Japan, North America, and Europe and include works by Dong Qichang, Wang Jianzhang, and others the whereabouts of which had been unknown, and it was possible to inform academic circles once again of their existence.
(Written by ITAKURA Masaaki, Professor, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies / 2018)