c/o Mrs. Compton
Jan 10, 1924
Dear Mrs. Berenson,
London is covered with snow. It is terribly cold. Bright however -- not with the sun, but with the white sheet of snow on the ground, on the roof. This brightness, though of such a cold sheen, is still a great boon to the poor Yashiro, who is yearning for light in this dark and gloomy London.
I am so anxious about your health which I know is so delicate. I hope Italy is not so cold & you are all well.
I am going back to Florence early next month. By that time you are off to the further South, I suppose. I shall miss you so much this winter again just as in the last winter, when you went to Egypt & Greece. My life in Florence is so closely knit together with the Library of I Tatti with its hosts who extended their kindness & hospitality even to me, such a simple beginner as I am, -- that I am afraid I shall feel very lonely again this winter in Florence, lonely in the social, as well as the intellectual, sense.
Since I came over to England, with a desperate determination to do some substantial work, to recover, no! not so much, to alleviate, the great loss which my family had suffered from the earth quake, I was fortunate enough to find a publisher for my book on Botticelli, -- on the Art of Botticelli. At first I was too tired to approach any publisher & I merely wanted to write articles on various phases of Botticelli’s art, to which I had taken those detail -- photographs as illustrations. The friends to whom I showed those photos became very much interested, & recommending a publisher, urged me to publish a book rather than fragmentary articles. There is nothing more welcome to me, & so I determined to do so. I think you and Mr. Berenson would be glad to hear of this, you, who took some interest in me (might I say so?) I am awfully uneasy if I am not too presumptuous to think that my work on Botticelli should be in any way worthy to be taken interest in by you! -- But still you helped me a great deal in my study. In my whole life I have never been helped in such a wholesome way as by you, so I feel it not only my pleasure but also a duty to tell you of the first fruit of my labour. If all goes well the book is to come out next Christmas or a little later on from the Medici Society in London. This would form a good introduction of myself to the art and literary world in Europe and America. With this introduction of my own merit or demerit, put in public clearly by itself, if I may, as the next step I shall prepare my studies on Oriental Art in a few years. In this way I may perhaps launch on a career, which, I told you, I am always so anxious to pursue.
As it is, I am now all in all in my work, which I must finish ready for print as quickly as possible.
To hear that B.B. was glad to see those photos, sent to him from Brogi, was such a joy to me. Those photos show exactly what my appreciation is of Botticelli. I think in a few weeks I can send you some others photos which are as interesting as those. As for the expense, which you are ever so kind as to propose to share, I am susceptible to your kindness, especially as I am now rather poor, because of the loss of all my property in Japan by the earthquake. But I am awfully stupid in calculation, & I don’t know how much I am to ask you to give me. I have entirely forgotten what sum of money I had paid to the photographers. So let me tell you later on. For the present I am more than satisfied to hear that you liked them.
There are some photos of Botticelli which I am very anxious to get. I want to ask you if you can help me to get them -- oh I am troubling you ever so much, but I can think of no other man -- I have so few friends -- which is so influential in this respect, so let me ask you. These are Botticelli’s in America. In my original plan I was to go to America this February on my way back to Japan & get the necessary photos. Now those photos became indispensable to me before I go to America. I have no friend in U.S.A., except perhaps Offner, but I don’t know where he is, he never writes me.
i) Details of the ex-Chigi Madonna, in Mrs. Gardner’s Collection.
Can you not get them taken by the photographer on my expense? I send you a photo of the picture with the desired details marked out. This is such a big trouble, but as that picture is so important for my special studies that I became so bold as to ask you this great help.
ii) Portrait of Lorenzo Lorenzano in Johnson Collection
I have a half-tone reproduction but I want a good photo of it
iii) Portrait of a young Man in the Hamilton Collection, which BB published in the Art in America. A good photo.
iv) The Last Communion of St. Jerome from Marchese Farinola Collection. I think this is in America now, where I don’t remember. In Bode’s recent book, I remember it was given in the “Metropolitan Museum”. Is that so? I want a photo of it too.
Perhaps you remember how I was enthusiastic when I told you that I saw a real Botticelli in the restorer’s room in the Uffizi Gallery. I understood at that time that it belonged to Prof. Toesca. At that time I was anxious to get it bought by a Japanese Collector & I had a big hope in it, when that dammed earth quake put an end to it.
Can you not get a photo of it? To me it is quite a gem, & my study of Botticelli would never be complete without it. I know that it is unpublished & besides if it is for sale it would be difficult to get a photo. But can you not help me to get it? You may well sympathize with an arduous wish of a young soul for a thing of beauty. I would never leave a stone unturned, if there is a slightest possibility to get a photo. Do help me!
This has become quite a lengthy letter & besides it is so badly written -- as usual. Though I am getting lessons in English, as I told you before, yet improvements in writing is excessibly slow. I intend to go back to Florence early next month. Can you think of any one in Florence, who would be willing to correct my English. I think I can in some way or other express my ideas, but I am despaired of my style. Of course I have no ambition to make it beautiful. All my wish in that respect is to make it simple, simple very simple & directly intelligible. In my study of French you recommended me such a nice and well-cultured lady as Signora Salvemini. In the case of English, can you help me again?
You told me of Ghita’s betrothal -- Ghita Luchaire, Signora Salvemini’s daughter. Immediately I sent a letter of congratulation to her, I am such a good friend of hers. But she does not answer me. Perhaps in her joy she has little time or calmness to begin a letter to a “third person”. How interesting to see lovers from outside! -- In saying this, I feel myself quite an old philosopher!!
I heard Handel's Messiah! in London there is music. How beautiful! In Florence I get hungry of music. This is the only objection of mine to Florence.
Yours ever, very, very sincerely,
P. S. My best regards to BB & to Signorina Nicchi.