It was a moving day at I Tatti on 18 March when the Villa welcomed two close relations of Yukio Yashiro, a fundamental figure in the history of Japanese art history and, for decades, a close friend of Bernard Berenson. Yashiro’s daughter-in-law Wakaba Yashiro, and her daughter Toko Hirayama (Chief Curator, Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum, Kamakura), made their first visit to I Tatti, together with another distinguished guest, Professor Masanori Aoyagi (Director-General, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo). After laying a beautiful bouquet of roses on BB’s gravestone, they looked at some of the Yashiro letters and photographs in the fototeca (above). Together with Lino Pertile, they read a new transcription of a poignant letter from BB to YY about the universality of Art (below).  

The visit came just as we are putting the final touches on the first I Tatti visit to Japan this coming May, with a series of lectures by Lino Pertile and Jonathan Nelson.

We are also pleased to announce that two Japanese scholars will be part of the I Tatti community next year. This international community, and the trip to Japan, are part of our efforts to support and promote Italian Renaissance studies in Japan and other areas that have been under-represented at I Tatti, and to establish valuable contacts with colleagues around the world.

Letter from Bernard Berenson to Yukio Yashiro
dated 4 March 1940

Dear Yashiro,

A few days ago your dear letter of Jan. 30 reached me and Mary and Nicky and I all had a great pleasure in reading it. Of course we all enjoyed hearing that you remembered us, our rocks and rills and all that we shared together for years. You may recall that at one time I expressed the hope that you might come and help me complete the revision of the Florentine Drawings which you now have received.

All that is over and past. And am I. I am nearly 75 and I begin to feel not only incapacity for a concentrated effort that it is worth making. One of my comforts is that I always hoped you would return to your own world and apply our method to its study. So I am truly glad to read you are “building up the history of Eastern art slowly but steadily”. Thus far it has been play of dealers, philologers and iconographers. I confess these have almost disgusted me with the subject and I can’t tell you how refreshing I found your protest against these approaches in the lectures you delivered at the Royal Society. I look forward to what you will publish and I want to live long enough to read you.

You assure me you still love Italian painting. How can I doubt! You, my dear Yashiro, are one of the Freeman of the city of art and for us (I venture to include myself in the number), all art is ONE. There is no Italian, no European, no Asiatic, no Chinese art, there is art in various climates and regions. As art, what matters is its unity and universality not the illustrative differences. Don’t be too long in writing to me; busy as you are, you can take half an hour once a quarter and communicate with me, and let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

Affectionate greetings from us all.