Right when my Botticelli research had begun to take off in this way while I was studying abroad in Europe, the Great Kantō Earthquake of the twelfth year of Taishō  hit in Japan. Due to the fact that my hometown, Yokohama, was one of the hardest-hit areas, my father died while he was out, our house was completely lost in a fire, and the only thing spared was the life of my mother, who was at home at the time. At that time I was in Switzerland, seeing as it was summer, but, being an only son, I decided to return home in haste when I heard the news. I thought to myself that once I returned to Japan under such circumstances, it seemed unlikely that I would be able to come abroad again for a while. Thus, I left Italy for London, taking leave of my teachers and friends in Italy; in addition, I took my leave of my British friends who had helped me in various ways. I also showed them for the first time my Botticelli research that I had been working on up to that point in its entirety, and as my farewell I told them, “This is the sort of thing I was working on until now, but since we lost everything in the earthquake, my father died, and my mother is the only one left, I have no other choice—I will be returning home in haste.”
For whatever reason, my friends in London thereupon gave high praise to the Botticelli-related work I had done, and repeatedly advised me to reconsider, saying, “Yashiro, even if you hastily go back to Japan now, it won’t bring your father back to life. If you leave this work unfinished and go back to Japan, you’ll be hard-pressed to finish it there, since you won’t have easy access to the materials you need for this kind of work in Japan. And who knows when another peculiar fellow intent on doing this sort of work like yourself will next emerge from the East. What do you say, Yashiro, to remaining here a bit longer, finishing what you started, and then going home?”
When it was put that way I naturally agreed, and so I made up my mind to ultimately apologize to my mother in my far-off hometown and remain in Europe until my work was done. I made the decision with the intent to get the permission of my mother and the relatives who had kindly taken her in and were looking after her, and to oblige the enthusiastic recommendation of my friends. During that period, while thinking forgive me, mother, forgive me, deep down I made a decision, resolute in the face of sadness, to bring a splendid finish to my work such that it would stand as an apology to my deceased father and my waiting mother, and to no matter what show it to them finished. And during that period my friends in England discussed publication with the Medici Society, the London publishers of the world-famous color artwork reproductions the “Medici Prints” as well as specialized books on the fine arts, and they even negotiated for me a contract for the monthly advance payment of royalties until the completion of my manuscript. I no longer had to worry about the expenses of remaining abroad; they had seen to it that all I had to do was simply immerse myself in the task of completing my manuscript. I was moved to tears by the kindness of my friends.
In the subsequent year and a half until I completed the manuscript in its entirety and delivered it to the Medici Society, I immersed myself in my work with an utter franticness, as if I were literally fighting with my back against the wall. Namely, in great haste I went back to Florence from London and started to work on compiling what I had done in terms of research until that point; I finally started to write my English-language manuscript in the beginning of February of the following year, and tentatively completed a first draft of my tome in May. Even Florence became downright hot from around that time onward, so I first hid myself away in the Apennine Mountains, up from the city of Modena in the central part of Italy; and then when the heat was at its worst I went to Switzerland and secluded myself in a lonely cottage inn in a place called Riffelalp, near a glacier in the Alps. I carefully looked over and rewrote my manuscript there until the beginning of autumn. Then I rushed to London and, together with the Medici Society’s editor-in-chief Harry Laurence, concerned myself with scrupulously correcting the English of my manuscript.
This editor-in-chief Laurence was quite an admirable individual. In his youth he once published a complete, deluxe edition of Botticelli’s famous large book of sketches for Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is held by the Berlin State Museums, together with the famous German scholar of sketches, Lippmann. Not only was he himself a great Botticelli enthusiast by nature, but, what is more, due to the fact that he was at that time the responsible party who had decided to put out this major publication, three large volumes on Botticelli written by a completely no-name Asian such as myself, he, for one, took it to be impermissible to have a single fault anywhere in my book, and with the utmost thoroughness concerned himself with conscientiously correcting my prose. And furthermore, what amounted to his way of correcting prose was truly unusual. Actually, unusual does not even begin to describe it. In truth, he himself corrected virtually none of my English prose. It goes without saying that, had he rapidly corrected my English in an ordinary fashion, like the British or Americans normally do in this sort of situation, then he would have been able to promptly finish the corrections with no trouble at all. He, however, was resolute in refraining from that sort of method of correcting. Namely, as Laurence would say, “Yashiro’s” prose has a personality and a charm that is unique to Yashiro. If he himself were to correct it, then it would lapse into the ordinary prose of Laurence, an Englishman, and cease to be Yashiro’s warm-blooded prose. And as a result, both its special characteristics and its charm as “Yashiro’s” would fade. He was of the fundamental mindset that, no matter what, the meaning of this publication would be lost if it did not clearly preserve “Yashiro’s” prose itself, with its individuality and special characteristics. In other words, Laurence resolutely insisted on working under the assumption that “the prose belies the person,” to use a phrase that has gained currency recently in Japan. What is more, due to the fact that it would in no way be permissible to have even minor deficiencies in the prose of my book, being a publication of the Medici Society, which prided itself on its high quality, he carefully read my manuscript with me letter by letter, phrase by phrase, and if there were places that stood out to him—that felt even a little off, or that did not sit right—he would unsparingly point out each one. And he would listen again carefully to my intended meaning, and then diligently explain to me what was wrong about the particular sentence, and then have me correct it myself, asking me, “Well, Yashiro, how do we fix it?” He patiently repeated this again and again, and positively would not stop until we had reached a point where he felt that it would do. Indeed, in my entire life I have never once gone through something else that tough, before or since. Since the revisions dragged on so unsuccessfully with no end in sight, I would grow thoroughly discouraged, or alternately I would take offense—but, even still, he was resolute in not stopping. And there were also often places where, no matter what, I could not compromise. Although it was agonizing indeed, I myself was truly moved by his utmost determination to go to these lengths and turn my prose into good English, while making sure its special characteristics as the prose of a foreigner from the East were retained; and I grit my teeth, and continued to persevere. When I fell into particularly low spirits, in the evening he would take me to the [National] Liberal Club—a club associated with the Liberal Party, in other words—of which he was a member, and treat me to a quiet, delicious meal. I grew accustomed to the lifestyle of the English club, and it was because I was constantly being taken to this sort of authentic English club and thus grew familiar with them that I came to think it would it would be a good thing if Japan, too, had real, truly good clubs—places, in other words, where one can relax in quiet without being bothered by others, or, put another way, that are more than just places to play around. And when this editor-in-chief Laurence himself grew too worn out, he would say “I’m off to the countryside to play golf” and head out for a two- or three-day trip; and when he came back reenergized, we would immediately continue from morning till night with this two-person job of manuscript correction, which truly wearied us to the core. It took us three full months to repeat this process three times, going through the entire manuscript from beginning to end, letter by letter, phrase by phrase. Because I was made to do this severe compulsory revision of an extremely difficult English composition, so to speak, for such a long time, I felt that, thanks to this ordeal, I had somehow come to truly understand for the first time the nature of English prose. Even today, I feel grateful whenever I recall Harry Laurence, now deceased, as one of the people who did the most for me in my life.
After this rigorous thrice-repeated process of rewriting and correction, we had this all reset in type and at last came to feel that it was good enough. Next, as a representative of cultured society I had Arthur Waley—who was famous among other things for his English translation of The Tale of Genji and particularly well known as a stylist, and with whom I was on friendly terms—read through the whole thing and mark passages that felt to him clumsy or out of place. Then Laurence and I, using the same process as before, carefully addressed such passages; and once that was finished, we then had an ordinary young woman who worked in the office of the Medici Society read through the entire thing as a representative of the general readership and again mark passages that were difficult to understand, tough to follow, and so forth; and again we corrected these, and finally decided that this would do. Although it was such an ordeal during this period that I often wanted to cry, I could not help but be also utterly impressed by the conscientious approach of England’s publishers with their sense of responsibility. Namely, through this sort of thorough care taken by the editor-in-chief Laurence, the text of my book, despite the fact that it was corrected to such an extent, is entirely my own English prose. In its logic as well as its sense of language, the text is pervaded through and through by an individuality and personal color that are my own as a person of the East. Because of this, I can open the book to any page even today and sense my own disposition in it. For an author, there is no greater feeling of relief and happiness than this.
In this way the rewriting and correction of the text of my Sandro Botticelli was brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Concurrently with this, we finished all the organization, layout, and editing of the color print comprising the frontispiece of the first volume and the numerous photographs that were to be used as illustrations in volumes two and three. Both editor-in-chief Laurence and I were absolutely exhausted. The publication preparations were finished in their entirety in December, right before Christmas. I was thirty-five years old at the time. I took up my pen one last time and, with a heartfelt earnestness, wrote my dedication to be inserted at the beginning of the volume.
Who died waiting
I literally boarded ship the next day and returned to my hometown Yokohama, which had been devastated by the earthquake, and to my mother, who had grown weary waiting. The ship arrived in Yokohama on a cold winter evening. My mother had become a small old woman; she was crouched by the harbor’s quay, unable to stand. When she saw me, all she said was “oh, oh” in surprise.
After that, nearly one year passed, and then the first limited edition in three large volumes of Sandro Botticelli arrived in Japan. I felt both happy and reserved at its handsomeness; its list price was twenty-seven English guineas, selling in Japan for three hundred yen. Since this was the fourteenth year of Taishō , this was an exceedingly high price, and I heard something to the effect that it sold no more than about thirty copies in Japan. Although it often made the newspapers as a big foreign dispatch, as far as I know not a single review came out in Japan. There were just backbiting whispers that Yashiro had apparently published a big book abroad, as if publishing a big book were a foolish thing to do—which made me feel both isolated and annoyed. But since I trusted that this was a book that ought to be judged abroad, I was relatively unconcerned with the jealous silence of the scholarly world in Japan, and I secretly thought to myself, “Just you wait!”
Once more, however, I made an unexpected acquaintance in Japan. Mr. Fukai Eigo, then the vice president of the Bank of Japan, was, I was told, someone who was at that time constantly checking the state of the foreign exchange, and he looked over a large number of foreign newspapers and magazines. Thereupon, due to the fact that articles and reviews about me were appearing prominently in so many different places, he asked the people around him what sort of person Mr. Yashiro was and approached me. After that, Mr. Fukai became the president of the Bank of Japan, and ultimately became a member of the Privy Council; and until he passed away, I was always the recipient of his patronage and favor. When the necessity arose for me to travel abroad to respond to the reviews that had come out there, as well as to publish the second edition of Sandro Botticelli—the less expensive so-called popular edition—it was Mr. Fukai Eigo who spoke with Mr. Tsurumi Sakio, the director of the Keimeikai Foundation, and secured funds for my travel expenses. In later years, Mr. Yasui Sōtarō painted Mr. Fukai’s portrait, which became exceedingly famous. This came about through my above-mentioned relationship with Mr. Fukai: I received a request from Mr. Fukai and recommended Mr. Yasui, who had recently returned from abroad, as a painter; and thus was that masterpiece born.
Before long the second edition, namely the less expensive edition in one volume, of my Sandro Botticelli was published. I inserted a long preface at the beginning of the second edition in response to the various foreign reviews of the book. In particular, I had taken offense at the long review by the famous senior member of the world of criticism in Britain, Roger Fry, who had to a certain extent written in the vein of “What a cheeky young Asian!” Furthermore, I felt that he would be a capable opponent, and so I bravely fought back. There was a bit of a reason for this. I have already mentioned the distinguished Herbert Horne, who was an extremely studious British Botticelli scholar. I deeply respected Horne’s writing, and had studied his book more carefully than anybody. That being said, as the result of such study I came to hold my own ideas about Botticelli’s works, and it was often inevitable that I reached a conclusion different from Horne’s. This was exactly the same as how, no matter how much I might respect and look up to Mr. Berenson, I am not necessarily beholden to each and every one of his conclusions. Such is the nature of the fine arts. I got the sense, however, that Roger Fry—who had been a close friend of Herbert Horne while he was alive—ultimately criticized me because he harbored a fundamental antipathy to the effect that it was insolent of me to advocate, in spite of the fact that I was just some young person from the East, a differing opinion with regard to Herbert Horne, who was such a prominent authority in the field. In which case, I, too, could not very well remain silent. Meanwhile, the long review article of my new Sandro Botticelli published in the opening pages of the Times Literary Supplement, the literary weekly of The London Times, was unsigned by the author due to the fact that it was an editorial. Since reviews of new publications in The London Times are given the most weight, however, it was a given that an authority in the field would be entrusted with writing it; but it was unfortunate that I had no idea who the author of that long article was. And although there was also no one who informed me who the author was, at any rate the review grasped well indeed what I had intended to say and furthermore gave me high praise, so I felt extremely satisfied. Various other reviews were also published here and there; among these, it was an honor to have Mr. Eric Maclagan, a major figure in the field of medieval and Renaissance studies in England and at the time the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, write an exceedingly kind review. At any rate, it seemed ultimately that opinions on the value of my book were settled in England when the editorial review in The London Times came out. A representative review in America was the long essay that Royal Cortissoz, who was a famous critic in those days, wrote praising me highly in Scribner’s Magazine. And when the second edition, namely the less expensive edition in one volume, was in this way eventually published, Harvard University, in cooperation with the Carnegie Foundation in America, invited me as a lecturer in their main faculty. Circumstances in Japan did not allow me to accept the two-year invitation, and so I went and lectured for half a year, namely for one semester only. It is a strange coincidence that one of the students who attended my class lectures was [Edwin] Reischauer, the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan. And after the war I received, in addition to a decoration, the Italian Order of Merit for Culture and Art (Gold Class) from the Italian government for my achievements in service to Italian art.
Thus, the publication of my book on Botticelli had an extremely broad range of influence abroad—the opposite of its cool reception in Japan—and indeed seemed to preordain the course of my life thenceforth. For example, immediately after the publication of the first edition, a woman whom I had never met and who apparently was a German scholar came to me saying that she wanted to publish a German translation of Sandro Botticelli. This was, for me, a felicitous proposal, and I was of the mind to give my consent; but when I discussed the matter with the Medici Society they did not agree, saying that, although this is at the discretion of the author, from the standpoint of the Medici Society this was a high-quality book published at an exceptional expense, and furthermore English is understood by educated people across Europe, and the book has also been selling quite well in Germany—and so accordingly they would prefer me, to the extent possible, to refrain from obliging. In which case I respected the wishes of the Medici Society—on whom I had imposed to such an extreme degree—and resolved to not put out translations into other languages. And although I am often asked about not putting out a Japanese translation, it would be troublesome for me to do it myself, and I thought that, as per “the prose belies the person,” it would surely be the case that I myself would not be pleased were someone else to do it for me, and so I turned down all requests for translation.
There were also things like this. I had been thinking for some while that, once my Botticelli research was finished for the time being, next I would like to create a coherent whole out of my research on Leonardo da Vinci, an even bigger figure than Botticelli. Moreover, the publisher of my Sandro Botticelli, the Medici Society, said that they would gladly publish my study of Leonardo on the occasion of its completion, whereupon my own enthusiasm for the project grew, and when I went to London to put out the second, less expensive edition as described above, I took advantage of the opportunity to gain special permission from the British Royal Household and research the extensive collection of sketches by Leonardo held in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. One day during this period, I was invited to a dinner by the London PEN Club. Since this was more than thirty years before a PEN Club was established in Japan, I had no idea at all what this so-called PEN Club was. I was at that time engrossed in my Leonardo research and had hidden myself away in the country town of Windsor, and I had no friends nearby to explain to me what the PEN Club was. Furthermore, it was clearly specified that attendants at the dinner should wear a tailcoat, and needless to say I did not have a tailcoat and so forth on hand. And so I felt it to be a foolishly fussy dinner party, and it grew to be too much of a bother. I sent in a notice that I would not attend. When I spoke about this matter after the fact with Laurence, the editor-in-chief of the Medici Society, he was in turn flabbergasted and angry: “What a foolish thing you’ve done! Oh, well.” He went on to tell me things like, “It is a great honor for a writer to be formally invited to a dinner by the PEN Club, and it also has a large impact on the sales of one’s book. I would have lent you a tailcoat and so forth—oh, well.”
Likewise, in the case of my becoming friends with the Rockefeller family in America, too, my book Sandro Botticelli acted as intermediary. The mother of John D. Rockefeller III, who built the International House of Japan in Tokyo—in other words, the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr.—was an exceptional enthusiast of the fine arts, and had purchased a lovely small-scale painting called Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist, which I included in my Sandro Botticelli and which was previously held in London. Right at the time when I was at Harvard University as an invited lecturer, the faculty meeting of the department of Fine Arts was held at the primary Rockefeller residence, which was near what is nowadays the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Even I, a lecturer, was asked to attend, and so I headed out with the other professors. After our luncheon, Mrs. Rockefeller said to me, “There is something that I would especially like to show you,” and I was taken to a different room, where the newly purchased Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist by Botticelli was hanging on the wall. “When I learned that you would be coming to my home today, I thought I would like to give you a surprise by showing this to you,” she said. This marked the start of our relationship, and I came to call on the Rockefeller residence from time to time. Because Mrs. Rockefeller also loved modern painting greatly, one of the floors of her multistoried residence functioned as a small gallery, and it was here that I was shown for the first time, among other things, small pieces by Diego Rivera, the up-and-coming Mexican painter whom Mrs. Rockefeller favored at the time. And, in addition to the above, I was astonished indeed to see that the other rooms of the residence were filled with a collection of extraordinarily valuable masterpieces: a large, magnificent torso of Tang marble, which is famous in Chinese sculpture; a Six Dynasties pair of two large gilt-bronze Buddhist statues with beautiful gold plating; a dazzling Gothic tapestry from Europe’s Middle Ages of the highest quality; and so forth.
And I first became acquainted with the former Italian Ambassador to Japan, Giacinto Auriti, too, because we met by chance at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco as he was on his way to his first appointment in Japan and as I was returning home from lecturing at Harvard University. “Although I am heading to Japan after this on appointment as the new Italian Ambassador, you are the first Japanese I have ever spoken to,” he told me, and afterward, while chatting about various matters, he suddenly asked me the following: “There is a Japanese who has written a splendid book on the Italian painter Botticelli. I read the book with pleasure, and am looking forward to meeting the author when I go to Japan. Would you happen to know the author, by any chance?” I was taken aback by the question and answered, “Actually, that person would be me.” This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the two of us.
When I went to America for the first time after the war, I was thoroughly surprised by the large-scale, superior, massive collection of artwork at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and by the splendor of its architecture. As a collection of Western painting, it had in a single bound entered the top class of such collections around the world, and, due to the fact that the former director of the museum, John Walker, was originally a scholar specializing in Italian painting, there were many famous Italian masterpieces in the museum, and in particular a number of important works by Botticelli were on display. One of these, a large work entitled The Adoration of the Magi, was previously held in the Winter Palace—the former royal residence—and the Hermitage Museum of Leningrad in the Soviet Union. Before the publication of my book Sandro Botticelli—that is, when the Soviet Union had not yet gained a sense of stability—I once endured a good deal of difficulty in entering the Soviet Union to make my way purposely to Leningrad via Finland to research this painting by Botticelli. It was thus an important work, and a masterpiece of which I had strong memories. Mr. [Andrew] Mellon, the man of wealth from Pittsburgh who had once served as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and who had also served as the Ambassador to the Soviet Union, purchased the Botticelli painting from the Soviet Union along with a variety of other famous paintings, and it was one of the masterpieces he gave to the National Gallery. Seeing as how the National Gallery held a number of Botticelli-related paintings in addition to this one, ever since my first visit there I had a particularly close relationship with director John Walker, who was my junior as a pupil of Mr. Berenson, having studied under him for many years in Italy; whenever I visited the museum, I would be asked of my opinion on the Botticelli paintings in the museum’s collection and on works of that school, and was often also asked to give lectures on topics like “the art of Botticelli” and “Italian painting.” And once, when I was given a large book of paintings called Great Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, which was a new publication of the museum’s masterpieces, as a souvenir of my visit to the museum, I looked in the book to find that, on the pages opposite the individual color reproductions of famous paintings in the museum’s collection, excerpts of commentary on the artist and the painting from well-regarded, representative works had been printed as explanation. The Botticelli painting that had been selected and printed in color was a portrait of a fine youth; in the picture the youth was depicted holding a beautiful hand, which gave the impression of an exceedingly nervous temperament, to his chest. And selected and printed as the explanatory passage was an excerpt from my book Sandro Botticelli that discussed how Botticelli treated what could be called the beauty of the human hand with the utmost sensitivity; and I was also introduced as the author of Sandro Botticelli. Until that moment I had not been informed that such a book of paintings had been published, and when I discovered that a passage from my Sandro Botticelli had been excerpted in the company of other selections from well-regarded works on the fine arts, I felt a little embarrassed, but also extremely honored.
At a later date, I heard from someone who visited this National Gallery in Washington that the museum has a so-called audio guide: while you are looking at the paintings on display in the museum, if you pay a fee they will lend you a small device that you wear on your ears, and, while wearing it, you can listen to a broadcast of explanations pertinent to the paintings on display. And this person told me, “When I was listening in front of a Botticelli painting, your name came up!” This, too, was for me a piece of unexpected news.
At any rate, I often traveled abroad thereafter, too, for such things as requests to give a lecture at a university or a talk at an art museum; and I saw firsthand that, generally speaking, either the first large-volume edition of my Sandro Botticelli in three volumes or at the very least the second edition in a single volume was without fail among the holdings of art museums, university libraries, and art historical research institutes in various countries, and that copies of the large first edition in particular had been worn by frequent handling, or were dirty, or had had their binding repaired. This made me happier than anything, as it was evidence that my book was actually still relevant and in use as a text. And the fact that my book was almost certainly included in bibliographies of Western art history and Renaissance art also gave me great satisfaction. This all served as the best possible consolation for me with regards to the loneliness I felt due to the mean-spirited silence and backbiting in my native country, and was also an international critical opinion that established proof of the way things really were.
After the publication of my Sandro Botticelli, my encounters with unexpected admirers of my book here and there, while traveling in various countries, were also a happy occurrence for an author like myself. Someone like the wealthy Mrs. [Anna Rice] Cooke of Honolulu, Hawaii was one of the most unexpectedly enthusiastic of such individuals.
The Cooke family and the Spalding family, into which Mrs. Cooke’s daughter had married, were distinguished Hawaiian families of the first rank, and especially the elderly Mrs. Cooke was an enthusiast of the fine arts, who personally established and in addition managed the splendid Honolulu Academy of Arts and its attached school for the fine arts. This Honolulu Academy of Arts, although one cannot say it is a particularly large museum in size, would be an impressive museum with a rich array of content even if one were to today pick it up and move it to the U.S. mainland. The founder of this museum, Mrs. Cooke, believed Hawaii to be perfectly suited as a central site where the two worlds of East and West meet; the museum—which was a beautiful one-story building in the Spanish style seen in California, built to seem sunken among the shade of green leaves—was designed to have a clear-cut symmetrical plan, divided such that one half comprised the section of Western art and the other half comprised the section of Eastern art, with works of considerable distinction exhibited in each. The construction of this building was finished in 1929, and, in the present day more than forty years later, this museum’s Eastern art section continues to develop more and more in conjunction with the increased global popularity of research on Asia. At any rate, when I passed through Hawaii immediately after the construction of this museum, I received an invitation from Mrs. Cooke and visited her large residence up on a mountain above Honolulu, which commanded a superb view of the mountains and the ocean. At our first meeting, Mrs. Cooke unexpectedly brought out the three-volume first edition of my Sandro Botticelli and told me, “I love Botticelli’s art, and so I have been enjoying reading this book of yours,” and then had me sign her copy. She was truly a kind and courteous old woman, and I was supremely happy to know that my book had found favor with such a fine individual. And above all it was for me an exceedingly pleasant discovery to learn that the place in question was, contrary to expectations, a small, isolated, far-off island on the Pacific Ocean. From that time onward, I came to be on friendly terms with the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and en route to and from America I would frequently stop by Hawaii, having been asked to give a lecture or something of that nature. Above all, about ten years ago I spent a few days in Honolulu for the first time in a while on the way to California’s Stanford University on invitation with my wife. Thereupon I thought that I would like to visit not only the Honolulu Academy of the Arts but also the mountaintop residence of its founder, Mrs. Cooke—it would be the first time in a long time—and that I would also like to show the residence to my wife, as well. When we had someone take us up to this mountaintop residence, I found that Mrs. Cooke had already passed away a long time ago; Mrs. Cooke’s daughter Mrs. Spalding was living there, and she came out and received us with a smile, having become a stout, gentle old woman in the spitting image of her deceased mother. From this I got the feeling that this was a direct continuation of the time that I first visited the residence forty years ago, and I could not bear the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia. Eventually Mrs. Spalding stood up as if she had suddenly remembered something, said, “Please wait a moment,” and went into the next room. When before long she returned to where we were, she was carrying a large and apparently heavy book. In other words she had, just for us, brought out the family copy of the three-volume first edition of my Sandro Botticelli. I was struck by her kindness, and when I opened the first volume for the first time after so many years, my signature was there at the front of the book. Since the date was signed as 1929, I remembered that in other words my first visit to this residence took place in the year in which the Academy opened. Thereupon Mrs. Spalding put the same volume in front of us, and I was utterly surprised when, in an unhurried voice, she recited from memory the opening paragraph of the preface to my book.
This is a book of Art. Its appeal is to the human heart. In the appreciation of Art there is no such thing as authority. Scholarship adorns, even dignifies criticism, but does not authorize it. A critic should not pose as a judge: he is a friend. My wish is to deliver Art from the guidance of specialists and return it to the simple desire of man.
I loved Botticelli and studied him; that is all. I have written down my joy that others may share it, or rather that others may open their eyes and get greater delight from Art in their own way. I long to see my book reach congenial hearts that love beauty, rather than brains of pure scholarship.
And Mrs. Spalding said to me, “My mother was exceptionally fond of the beginning part of the preface of this book, and thought that anything other than such an attitude was impermissible for teaching about the fine arts. She excerpted this opening passage, had it printed, and had the people at the Academy’s attached school for the fine arts read it like a textbook. Thereby I, too, unintentionally became able to recite it by memory, which I can still do to this day.” I do not remember when, but I once heard a rumor that Mrs. Cooke had taken an excerpt from my Sandro Botticelli and was using it like a textbook at the art school. But both my wife and I were deeply moved by the fact that Mrs. Cooke’s daughter recited the passage by memory for us that day, forty years after the fact.
I was utterly taken aback with surprise at the fact that on a far-off, isolated island like Hawaii there was a family of such devoted readers of my Sandro Botticelli, and could not help but think that they probably deserved to be called the number-one fans of my book. As an author, there is nothing as delightful as this.