Overview

Recent Advances in Characterizing Asian Lacquer aims to disseminate new procedures developed by the GCI for acquiring detailed compositional information about lacquered objects, with the aim of improving the characterization, understanding and preservation of this material.
Lacquer has a central and valued place in the arts of Asia, with a history of production that stretches back as far as 5000 BCE in Asia and a more recent history of trade, collection and imitation in Europe, where lacquer arrived in the sixteenth century. While the traditions surrounding the production of lacquer are generally well appreciated, constituent materials and particular techniques of lacquer production in Asia vary enormously depending on geography, available raw materials and historical context, and European lacquered objects and imitations introduce another layer of complexity. Without thorough characterization, it can be difficult to identify different types of lacquers and to understand the implications for preservation.
Analytical procedures that were developed with the collaboration of conservators at the J. Paul Getty Museum as part of the GCI's Characterization of Asian and European Lacquers project have the potential to uncover new and more detailed information about lacquers. In order to benefit the research and conservation of these materials, the GCI has launched the Recent Advances in the Characterization of Asian Lacquers workshop series.
This series of workshops provides instruction in new analytical and sampling procedures as well as a unique opportunity for scientists and conservators to work together in close collaboration, facilitating dialogue on such diverse topics as understanding compositional variation in lacquered objects, identifying research priorities and opportunities for collaboration, and exploring the relevance of analytical research to the conservation of lacquered objects. The first workshop was held in Los Angeles in October 2012. Future workshops in the series are planned at venues in the United States (2013), Europe, and Asia.