Symposium: Yamanaka & Co.: Early Pioneer of the Global Asian Art Trade

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Please join the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, on Thursday, April 15, from 8:30 am - 12 pm EST for our symposium "Yamanaka & Co.: Early Pioneer of the Global Asian Art Trade." This program is the second installment in the series Hidden Networks: Trade in Asian Art, which is co-organized by the Freer and Sackler; Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. 

Yamanaka & Company was one of the most prolific art dealers selling Asian art to buyers in Europe and the United States in the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century. A family business that was initially based in Osaka, Japan, it became a shareholding corporation and a global leader in selling Asian art mainly to a Western clientele. In 1894, the first gallery outside of Japan opened in New York City, with more branches following in Boston, Chicago, London, and Beijing, among other locations. Art collecting giants including the Rockefellers, Ernest Fenollosa, Charles Lang Freer, and Osvald Sirén were some of Yamanaka’s clients. The broad variety of Asian objects from East Asia and South and Southeast Asia sold by Yamanaka are now in leading museums around the world, including the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Freer Gallery of Art.  


Examining the history of Yamanaka & Company illustrates the complicated nature of the art market at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, implicating colonial entanglements, illicit translocation of objects from broader Asia to Europe and North America, and forced sales during WWII. This webinar will bring together members of the Yamanaka family, academics, and museum specialists who will discuss the impact of the Yamanaka trading activities on today’s museum collections. 


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April 15, 2021