Bernard Berenson (in Settignano) to Yashiro

Addr[e]ss: Settignano, Florence, Italy

Vallombrosa, Aug. 15, 1948

My very dear Yashiro,

It made me happy to receive your letter of May 9. I had been unhappy that my friend Miss Robinson of the American Red Cross had failed to get in touch with you and Auriti kept saying you were dead. I felt sure you were not, but did not know how to get in touch with you; for after Miss R’s failure I tried again and again without success. At last, thanks to Gerard came your letter, and I wrote at once to Mr. Coster whether through Mr. Gerard I could correspond with you. I got a negative answer and then cast a post-card into space hoping it might reach you. At least thanks to the Italian foreign office I am writing at length, and I hope you can answer me through the same channel. At the same time I am sending you my last book which has appeared in Italian before its publication in English, in New York. If you want an English version I shall try to send it to you.

Let me tell you how glad I am to learn that at least you all are safe and sound, including, I hope, your gifted musician son. Your difficulties do not surprise me. I imagined them all, I am indeed pleased that it was no worse. Nationalism is a poisonous religion. It does not inculcate the love of ones’ own  but hatred of other peoples. 

You do not exaggerate your services in the cause of Far Eastern Art. I never mention your name, and I do so often, without speaking of them. I only wish I could read all you have written. I fully sympathize with the distaste you have for your own people after their behavior in the last ten years and more; I should be happy to enable you to get a post in an American institution where you and your family could live while you went on with your work. I will do all I can, but it is little for I am not in touch with any university in U.S.A except Harvard, and that seems deaf to every proposal of mine. You have no idea probably in what a state of anti- art all-so called art now is in the Western World. But, be assured that I will do my best. Would you be allowed to go to U.S.A and could you take your family as well?

About myself, June 26 last I was 83 years old, and I feel it in every nerve and muscle. I have to waste much time resting, dozing, or reading periodicals. Yet I still try to write altho’ I feel no confidence in what I conclude. Beside the “Etica, Estetica e Storiathat I am sending you now, I have written a “Sketch for a Self-Portrait” and a war diary. I hope they will be published in time, altho’ it is very difficult to get anything that I write printed. There is little demand for what I can write.

My house and grounds suffered quite a little from the war, but are the same again as you knew it.  Only my wife is there no more. She died March 23, 1945. Nicky Mariano is still with me. She is my guardian angel. I could not live without her. We often talk of you and she sends you her love. I have made your friend Auriti’s acquaintance after we had corresponded for some time about you, last autumn. I saw him in Rome, his collections and his library. He has written a book on Japan, and sent me the manuscript to read. I have not done so yet. My works of art and library are pretty nearly unharmed. Some pictures of second quality were damaged but nearly all are repaired. 

I have little to complain of, given my age. I still enjoy art and nature and friends. What more can one expect!

Yours affectionately,

Bernard Berenson