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Bernard Leach Collection

Following the death of Janet Leach, the last wife of Bernard Leach, in 1997, her collections were auctioned at Bonhams in London in 1998. In order to avoid breaking up the collection, Lady Lisa Sainsbury successfully acquired 33 titles of Janet Leach’s book collection, and donated them to the Lisa Sainsbury Library when it was still in preparation for opening.

Most of the books were formerly owned by Bernard Leach, and some of them have his signature or his hand written notes in them. Some were dedicated to Bernard Leach from Tomimoto Kenkichi and other ceramic artists.

Carmen Blacker Collection

Carmen Blacker left a bequest of her entire library collection to the Lisa Sainsbury Library in 2009. Reflecting her research interests, this Cambridge University scholar’s collection includes folklore and religious practices in Japan, Minakata Kumagusu and Fukuzawa Yukichi with over 1,600 volumes of books and around 75 titles of periodicals. The Sainsbury Institute greatly appreciates the generosity of Michael Loewe and Sir Hugh Cortazzi in making her bequest possible.

Cortazzi Collection

Several other important donations have come in rapid succession, including a large collection of books on Japanese art and history donated by Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi. Sir Hugh was formerly the British ambassador to Japan and was a noted scholar in his own right. This collection includes a number of important and rare volumes of books. Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi also gave the Lisa Sainsbury Library about 40 Yokohama prints (ukiyo-e showing foreigners) and some other prints and paintings as long-term loan. In addition, Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi have placed their valuable collection of Japanese ceramics, in particular pieces by Living National Treasure Shimaoka Tatsuzo, on long-term loan with the Institute, and some of them are now on display at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Maps of Japan from the Cortazzi Collection

Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi’s contribution to the Institute includes the long-term loan of important historical maps. Approximately 70 items of printed maps of Japan and East Asia in addition to bird’s-eye view illustrations and porcelain map plates on Japan have been gifted to the Lisa Sainsbury Library. Almost two thirds are maps produced in Europe dated from 1522 to middle of the 19th century. Others are of Japanese origin mostly from mid to the late Edo period (1603 – 1867), and some are from the Meiji era (1868 – 1912). They are important resource and archival materials for scholars and students interested in not only cartography, but also in other disciplines including history, politics and art.

JAPAN: Historical Images from the Cortazzi Collection Exhibition

Matsushita Collection

In the autumn of 2001, over 15,000 volumes on Japanese art, which formerly belonged to the Japanese art historian, Matsushita Takaaki, were donated to the Lisa Sainsbury Library. The donation of this superb collection of books on Japanese medieval art was arranged by Professor Matsushita’s son-in-law, Professor Masatomo Kawai of Keio University. With this comprehensive collection of books as its core, the Lisa Sainsbury Library has become one of the most important centres for Japanese art studies in Europe.

Yanagisawa Collection

The Lisa Sainsbury Library was presented with over 3,000 books from the collection of the late Professor Yanagisawa Taka of the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Tobunken) in 2005. Professor Yanagisawa was a leading specialist in Buddhist art, and this collection represents an important addtion to the Library’s collection in this subject area. The books will subsequently be catalogued and available to readers in the Library. The Sainsbury Institute is grateful to Professor Kawai Masatomo of Keio University for arranging this significant donation.

Professor Hooshang Sanei Collection

Professor Sanei at Yōmeimon (Nikkō Tōshōgū) in 1977.

In 2019, the Lisa Sainsbury Library received around 100 volumes of Japanese auction catalogues from private collections (uritate mokuroku)  in the period between the late Meiji and Taisho along with some issues of the renowned Japanese art journal ‘Kokka’ collected by the late Professor Hooshang Sanei. His interest in Japanese art and culture grew while he was studying in Japan in the 1950’s, and he had been accumulating some Japanese artefacts as well as publications on Japanese art.  

Professor Hooshang Sanei was a prominent scholar of architecture at the University of Tehran. Along with his wife, Professor Mahin Rahmani at the University of Tehran, they encouraged under privileged young people to study by their generous donations to various charitable organisations.

Auction catalogues from private collections (uritate mokuroku) are essential resources for art historians, firstly because they provide the information of provenance of art objects, and secondly, there are instances where information can only be obtained from these catalogues, such as works that have been privately owned, and works that have already been lost due to war, earthquake, fire or other disasters. Although these auction catalogues provide important information, they are not easily accessible as these publications were issued for a limited period of time and for a limited number of people.

Therefore, with the help of Ritsumeikan University Art Research Center, the Sainsbury Institute and the Library are planning to digitalise these catalogues in order that they can be used for research purposes.  

The Sainsbury Institute is most grateful to Professor Rahmani for her generosity to donate these precious materials to the Lisa Sainsbury Library.