Yamanaka and Company: transforming the East Asian art market
Brady, Colin James
Yamanaka and Company is one of the most prolific art dealers in the history of Asian art market studies. However, research surrounding the operations of his company remain limited. Contemporary publications have begun to shed light on the life of the dealer, as well as those men and women he influenced. These new additions, while welcomed, continue to neglect the art he sold on a macro scale. Journals, dissertations and two books have highlighted specific works, which are now prized possessions of major institutions in the U.S. and U.K and yet, there has been no overview of the majority of his stock. The intention of this research is to investigate how companies, like Yamanaka and Co., navigated international conflict and laws to reshape the Asian art market. This underlying theme will be anchored by the first ever assembly of Yamanaka’s stock of art, which was sold in New York, Boston and London. In addition, this material will help support a secondary, but important point that Yamanaka, as well as other Asian art dealers, were in fact an important catalyst for defining what would become popular Asian art in America and Europe. While the means by which they acquired their art remains questionable, it will be discussed that Yamanaka and Company’s drive to share and heighten the understanding of Asian art was an underlying principle that drove his business. Having become a conduit to Asian culture, Yamanaka and Company would use their position to promulgate their version of Asian art history, the effects of which will be discussed in this thesis.