Art historian Yukio Yashiro (1890-1975), who served as the director general of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, went to Europe in 1921 and studied under Renaissance art researcher Bernard Berenson (1865-1959) in Florence, Italy, from the autumn of that year. Yashiro learned his teacher’s method of stylistic comparison, and published “Sandro Botticelli” in 1925, a bulky English work on Botticelli that made Yashiro internationally recognized. After returning to Japan in 1925, he participated in the foundation of the “Institute of Art Research,” the predecessor to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Based on the Institute of Art Research, he made efforts to compile the history of Oriental art using Berenson’s methodology. After World War II, he was involved in the opening of the Museum Yamato Bunkakan from the preparatory stage and served as the first director general of the museum. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, has been conducting research on the correspondence between Yashiro and Berenson. On June 30, we started a Web exhibition on the extant correspondence titled “Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy,” presenting the republications of all 114 letters between Berenson and Yashiro and related documents in cooperation with the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, which is housed in the former villa of Berenson, and Michiaki Koshikawa, professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. (See http://yashiro.itatti.harvard.edu/) You can enjoy various materials showing the exchanges between the two art historians in the Web exhibition comprising the following chapters: letters, a list of people appearing in the letters, “Sandro Botticelli,” English versions of Yashiro’s literary works including an English translation of “My Life in Fine Arts” (from Chapter 7 to 10) published in 1972, studies on Yashiro, Berenson’s literary works on Oriental art and a gallery including Yashiro’s water-color paintings and sketches. Yashiro and the letters shed light not only on the individual activities of Berenson and Yashiro and their master-discipline relationship, but also on the international circumstances surrounding research on Renaissance art and Oriental art from the 1920s to 1950s.
Yashiro and Berenson-Art History between Japan and Italy