Matsumoto Yujiro: From the Japanese ship king to the collection tycoon

In 2019, it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Museum of Western Art in Japan. For this purpose, the “Songfang Collection” exhibition will be launched and will be held until September 23, 2019.

Looking at the history of Japanese art collection, the great collector Matsumoto Kojiro is a special existence. Because, in addition to collecting a large number of famous masterpieces, and having the regular configuration of the collectors, there is money and status, his collections are scattered around the world due to factors such as war and social environment at the time. In order to recover its collections scattered around the world, Japan established the National Art Museum and “recovered” the works to top museums such as the Louvre. Today, the founding of the National Museum of Western Art in Japan, which was famous overseas, was originally intended to collect the collection of Matsumoto Yujiro, which was returned by the French government.

In 2016, the National Museum of Western Art in Japan was successful and became one of the world’s cultural heritages. The museum itself became a work of art. At that time, it was unprecedented. Ueno Park was able to see the success of the application for hundreds of miles. The famous NHK TV station also invited Tianhai Youxi to film the program of exploring the National Western Art Museum.

The National Museum of Western Art gave the author a very simple and simple appearance. There was no paint at all. The exterior wall was decorated with simple pebbles. There are three floors in the museum, one of which is mainly sculpture, and the second is mainly paintings. It takes at least 2 hours to complete the entire exhibition area. Standing in front of a piece of art with a history of more than 100 years, it not only gives a glimpse of the details of the life of Europeans hundreds of years ago, but also evokes the vitality of art works that are not subject to time constraints.

Frank Browne’s painting “Portrait of Matsumoto Yujiro”.

In 2019, it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Museum of Western Art in Japan. For this purpose, the “Songfang Collection” exhibition was launched, which will be held until September 23, 2019.

In this exhibition, the exhibition hall is centered on the “What is the Songfang Collection” and “How the Songfang Collection is Formed and Scattered”, and is presented in chronological order. About 160 works and historical materials are exhibited. The French Aussie Museum Van Gogh’s “Ale’s Bedroom”, Gauguin’s “The Still Life with Fans”, as well as the collection of Monet’s “Water Lilies”, Rodin “Thinkers”, Renoir’s “Algerian style Parisian women” (Harem) and other famous artists in the history of Western art have been exhibited, and Monet’s “Water Lily: The Reflection of Willow Tree” discovered in the Louvre in France was first publicly displayed after restoration.

One-step Asian collection
Let me talk about Van Gogh’s “Ale’s Bedroom” on display. In February 1888, Van Gogh left the noisy city and went to Arles alone to rent a hotel in the “Yellow House”. After Van Gogh moved into the yellow house, he painted a total of five “Arles’s Bedrooms”, three oil paintings and two sketches, which represent the different moods of Van Gogh. The first of the three paintings of “Ale’s Bedroom” by Van Gogh is now in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and is considered to be the best of the three works. This is what Van Gogh was waiting for when he was waiting for his good friend, Gauguin, and the tone was warmer.

Everyone knows the story behind, and Gauguin only stayed for two months and left without saying goodbye. Van Gogh cut his left ear here and lived in a local hospital because of his mental disorder. In the hospital, he painted the next two “bedrooms” by memory. Compared to the first version, the second edition of the “bedroom” wall turned into a gloomy blue (presented by the Art Institute of Chicago), the shadow of the floor. Aggravated, the color of the furniture has also become dark, suggesting that Van Gogh’s heart is desperate. The third version (the current French Orsay Museum, once owned by Matsumoto) is a gift to the mother and sister. The blue color of the whole wall becomes strong again, and the portrait on the wall is replaced by the self-portrait of Van Gogh. And a portrait of a young woman.

In the year before Van Gogh’s death, “Rose” was painted, and the National Museum of Western Art in Japan (Songfang Kojiro Collection). At this time, Van Gogh has been admitted to the St. Remy Mental Sanatorium, depicting the roses blooming here. The characteristics of late works – intense and twisting strokes.

Another master of Impressionism, Renoir, was once fascinated by the romanticism of the painter Delacroix at the age of 30, modeled after Delacroix’s “exotic” works with oriental tastes, completed in 1872. One of the “Algerian style Parisian women” is one of them. Since Renoir’s personal artistic style was not formed at the time, and the artistic skills were not yet mature, this work was rejected. But the women’s body, as well as the beautiful little ornaments they wear, have become an indispensable element in his future work.

These works were collected by Matsumoto Yujiro in Europe in the 1920s and 1920s, but they are also the tip of the iceberg. 8,000 pieces of ukiyo-e paintings repurchased from Paris, a total of about 10,000 pieces of Matsui collection, scattered in the Great Kanto Earthquake and the 1927 financial crisis, scattered in London (about 900 pieces), Paris (about 400 pieces), Japan (about 1000 pieces) and other parts of the world. After the end of World War II, Paris returned more than 370 pieces of the collection in Japan, which indirectly contributed to the establishment of the National Museum of Western Art in Japan in 1959. We can see that Matsumoto’s collection is second to none in Asia, regardless of its size or quality.

Matsumoto Yujiro, the old man, Van Gogh, “The bedroom of Arles.”

How does Matsumoto Kojiro buy the masterpieces of the masters of art?
Time returned to a hundred years ago, Matsumoto Yujiro was born in 1865, is the son of the Japanese Prime Minister of the Meiji period, Matsui Justice. In 1896 he became the first CEO of the Japanese shipbuilding company Kawasaki Heavy Industries, studying in the United States and France, and his interest in art was born during his stay in Paris. Later, after receiving a Ph.D. in civil law from Yale University, he returned to China in 1890. After returning home, Matsumoto Yujiro became the father’s secretary, which was a fat deficiency at the time. The second generation of the official can shine on the road of the official, but he was the first president of the Kawasaki Shipyard because of the formal invitation of Kawasaki.

Matsumoto not only did not mess things up, but also made money for the company, especially in 1914, he issued a decision that had a significant impact on the company or on himself: Daxu purchased steel for shipbuilding. At that time, he received news that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had to fight with Serbia because of the “Sarajevo incident.” After the outbreak of World War I, steel prices soared and ships became more expensive because of military needs. As a result of early preparations, the shipyard’s orders continued one after another, and Matsumoto Yukiro made a fortune.

Not only the industrialists, the second generation, but also a collector. From the First World War he began to acquire art in Europe on a large scale. The British painter and the Asian and European antique collector Frank W. Brangwyn became his art collection consultant. He introduced Matsumoto to artists and other art dealers and suggested that he focus on Western art and crafts. Especially in the decade after 1916, Matsumoto visited Europe several times, often visiting art galleries and obtaining a large amount of art. As a result, he came up with the idea of ​​establishing a “common art museum”. To put it simply, it is an opportunity for young Japanese artists to get up close and personal with European masters of art and expand the horizon of global art. Frank Browne also sketched the design for his concert hall, but the idea was not realized until his lifetime.

Matsumoto is also known for its collection of ukiyo-e prints. After the Meiji Restoration in Japan, there was a “Chongyang Meiwai”. The ukiyo-e prints as a traditional culture were mostly abandoned or sold, but it was loved by Europeans. Japanese art dealer Lin Zhongzheng saw business opportunities and sold more than 100,000 pieces of ukiyo-e to Europe and the United States. Nowadays, Japanese museums need to borrow collections from museums when they hold ukiyo-e exhibitions. In 1925, Matsumoto exhibited his woodblock prints collected abroad, which was the first woodblock print exhibition in Japan. Today, these 8,000 ukiyo-e prints are hidden in the Tokyo National Museum.

Perhaps the exotic style of Ukiyo-e has profoundly influenced the Impressionist paintings, and the Japanese have a sense of closeness with the Impressionists. Many of the works of Matsumoto Yujiro’s collection were purchased in 1918-1921. During this period, he met with Paul Durand-Ruel, a Parisian painter who discovered the Impressionist artist, because he could not stay in France. He reserved the funds for the purchase of the work, let Paul D. Lange buy the work for him, and purchased the works of Renoir, Cézanne and Gauguin. In 1921, he purchased 4 works and spent 822,000 francs at a time.

Matsunaga’s niece, Kuroki Takeko, has a good relationship with Monet, which also facilitates his collection of Monet’s work. In 1920, Matsumoto Yujiro took a bottle of 1808 Napoleon brandy to visit Monet and bought 18 Monet paintings in one go. In 1923, after Monet’s second cataract surgery, Matsumoto Yujiro visited the sickbed and purchased many paintings directly from Monet.

Monet began building a garden in his home in Giverny after he was 50 years old. He planted flowers and trees here, cultivated lotus in the pool, and repeatedly painted this theme. The water surface of the pond varies with the weather and time. The painter has a strong interest in this. When he created this work, he has depicted the theme of the water lily for nearly 20 years. The shadows on the flowers and the water surface can be seen in the picture, but the details are boldly omitted. This expression is related to the later expressionism and abstract painting, which can be said to show the innovative side of Monet’s creation.

Monet’s “Water Lily”, created in 1916, is the treasure of the Tokyo National Museum’s town hall. It was purchased by Mobuki Matsumoto from Monet. Monet originally planned to own it, so the painting was not lined or brushed. The varnish retains the appearance of the painting. In this life, Monet created a total of nearly 300 water lily-themed works. When creating this, Monet has been painting the theme of the water lily for nearly 20 years, and his skills are in full swing, which is his masterpiece of his later years. The shadows on the flowers and the water surface can be seen in the picture, but the details are boldly omitted. This kind of performance is related to the later expressionism and abstract painting, which can be said to show the innovative side of Monet’s creation. Jiang Xun once said: “If there is no Monet in this world, I can’t imagine that the water lily should be surging.”

The most attention-grabbing sculpture in the Songfang collection is the Rodin sculpture “Thinker”, “The People of Calais” and “The Gate of Hell” in the landscape area before the entrance of the museum. It can be seen without tickets. This is an art museum. Continue the best practice of Matsumoto Kojiro’s “Common Art Museum” concept. The Gate of Hell is an unrealized sculpture masterpiece designed by Rodin for an ever-built museum. There are 180 characters in The Gates of Hell, and the later “Thinkers” are the core figures sitting on the threshold. Rodin is used to symbolize the image of Dante. Matsumoto Yujiro was the first person to order “Hell Gate” and cast it, but in France it was the second time.

Regarding the work of The Meditator, Rodin once said: “Dante is sitting on the rock in front of the door and indulging in the idea of ​​the verse. Behind him is Ugolino, Francesca, Paul, etc. All the characters in Divine Comedy. However, this plan has not been realized. The Dante gesture that is separated from the whole, thin and depressed, has no meaning. According to the original inspiration, I conceived other characters who are thinking. Nude The man sits on the rock, his legs close to the body, his fists against his teeth, and his immersion in fantasy. The rich thoughts are gradually shaped in his mind. He is no longer a visionary, but a creator.”

The bronze sculpture “Meditator” of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Tokyo was completed in 1902 to 1903 by Rodin’s right-hand man, Henry Lepos, based on the prototype of 1881-1882. The “Contemplative” from the “Gate of Hell” is not just a character who is thinking, but a universal image that is common to all mankind.

This is to be said in August 1918, because Edmund Davis, an art lover who has long been collecting Rodin’s works, the executor of Rodin’s executor and the first curator of the Rodin Museum, Lyons Benedi I met Matsumoto Yujiro. In order to build a museum to study the development of Tokyo art and Western technology, Matsumoto Yujiro is collecting works by painters and sculptors. Matsumoto signed a contract with the Rodin Art Museum in Paris and eventually purchased more than 50 pieces of Rodin sculptures, second only to the Rodin Gallery in Paris.

Because Japan’s import tax is extremely high, the tax that needs to be paid is equivalent to the cost of a piece of work, so Matsumoto deposited 400 paintings and sculptures in the old church of the Rodin Museum of Art until the end of World War II. When the museum of the work the customer wants to purchase is not in stock, the museum usually displays the work first and then sells it. Because of this, the first “Hell’s Gate” (paid) ordered by Matsumoto Yujiro was eventually purchased by Philadelphia, USA.

Around August 1921, Matsumoto Yujiro visited Germany and Switzerland, collected works by Munch and others, and purchased 17 large tapestries in Berlin. From 1922 to 1923, Matsumoto succeeded in obtaining 34 important modern paintings from the collection of Copenhagen merchants. In addition, perhaps because Matsumoto is engaged in the shipbuilding industry, the ship and ocean-themed works have become one of the characteristics of his early collections. On the other hand, he also visited the European countries through sea battles, shipwrecks, and the Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1921. The work records its history of what is happening.

Japanese art historian Yashiro Yoshio wrote in the book “The Patron of Art” published in 1958: “I think that Mr. Matsumoto’s prestige in the Paris market is very high, which is also dependent on its large-scale buyers. Mr. Guan Songfang’s style, attitude and character are all displayed in the Paris market. He is a world-class industrialist who is not inferior to anyone. Because of this, he has won such respect.”

When Matsumoto Yujiro had purchased a large number of works in Europe, he tried to ship the works back to Japan in batches. Before the shipment, he divided all the collections into three batches: he deposited more than 900 works in an art warehouse in London; more than 400 works were handed over to the curator of the Luxembourg Art Museum and the director of the Rodin Gallery, Aung San Suu Kyi. (Léonce Bénédite) for safekeeping; more than 1,000 masterpieces of European masters and more than 8,000 ukiyo-e paintings were first shipped back to Japan. However, there were unexpected events. Due to the influence of the Second World War and the 1927 economic crisis, the three works of Matsumoto Yujiro went on three very different paths.

Collection of roads everywhere
In the years after the Great Kanto Earthquake, Japan’s domestic economy has been relatively sluggish. In 1927, Kawasaki Shipbuilding, which was at the helm of Matsumoto Yujiro, was declared bankrupt in this wave by Japan’s domestic economic turmoil. As the president of the Matsumoto not only resigned, but also forced to pay all the property to the company, he will also bring back to Japan’s first paintings also sold to the company’s debt. These collections have been distributed to Japan and overseas, and some have been collected by the Tokyo National Museum.

According to Japanese domestic data, some of the Western oil paintings and sculptures that Matsuo shipped back to Japan were purchased by Japanese collectors, and a private art museum was established. Nowadays, Monet’s “The Straw of the Afternoon”, which is housed in the Ohara Museum of Art, the largest private art museum in Japan, is Matsuzaka’s old collection.

The fate of more than 900 works stored in the London warehouse is even more tragic than the fate of the works scattered around the country due to the bankruptcy of Matsumoto. In a fire in 1939, more than 900 works were swallowed up by the fire and destroyed.

In 2016, the British Museum of Art in London published a list of lost collections by Japanese collector Matsumoto Kojiro. The list was found in February 2016, recording the list of Matsui Yukiro collections that were burned in the fire in 1939. This is the first recorded document about the destroyed art in 70 years.

The list was found in the archives of the British Museum of Art in Tate and was written on 15 sheets of A4 size paper. The name of the 953 works, the name of the artist and the valuation of each work are recorded in detail, including 255 oil paintings, 82 drawings, 554 prints, 17 sculptures and several pieces of furniture. These include a number of Monet and Van Gogh oil paintings, as well as Rodin’s sculptures.

The staff of the Tate Britain Museum said in an interview that the list was originally kept by a London art dealer and was donated to the museum in 2010. Although it was not possible to confirm the identity of the list writer, it was confirmed by the National Museum of Western Art in Japan that it was part of the collection of Matsumoto Kojiro. It was speculated that it was made at the time to apply for fire insurance premiums.

Song Fang Xingjilang was handed over to the works preserved by the Léonce Bénédite in the Rodin Museum. After the end of World War II, it was seized by the French government as an “enemy enemy.” It was not until 1951 that the French government decided to maintain friendly relations with Japan, and Japan’s request to return the Matsunian collection to France under the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

In 1959, the French government returned 370 of the 400 pieces of “Songfang Collection” to Japan on the condition of “creating an art gallery designed by French architects”. Later, the National Museum of Western Art was built by the architect Le Corbusier to collect the “Songfang Collection” that France returned to Japan in 1959.

As for why Le Corbusier was chosen to design the art gallery, this is still a mystery. The National Museum of Western Art in Japan is the realization of Cobb’s early concept of “Growable Art Museum” and the only building in Cobb in Japan. On October 30, 1954, Le Corbusier visited the Ueno environment and visited traditional Japanese architecture for a total of eight days. This is his first and last time to set foot in the Japanese territory. Le Corbusier left only three drawings and a design note, and left Japan due to the work of Chandigarh, India. As for the structural design and construction, he was handed over to his three disciples in Japan, namely, Kagawa Kazuo, Kamakura Junzo, and Jisuke Takashi. The drawings and drawings sent by Cobb did not include the construction and equipment. These were all designed by the Japanese side. The details of the details not shown on the drawings were based on the “modulus” (the construction was artificial, the adult man was 183 cm tall). To decide, so the whole building gives a modern westernization but very Japanese feeling.

The works returned by France include Impressionist paintings by Matsumoto Kojiro, sculptures of Rodin, and prints by Dumière. In 2007, the National Museum of Western Art in Japan was designated as an important cultural property of Japan. For the remaining 20 works, the French government refused to return it. Among them, Van Gogh’s masterpiece “Al’s Room” is included.

In addition to the works that the French government refused to return, Matsumoto still has a lot of works in the major museums in France. For example, in 2016, Monet’s water lily masterpiece “Water Lilies: Willow Reflection” was discovered at the Louvre.

This “Water Lily: Willow Reflection” is one of the important paintings of the Songfang collection, which is 4.2 meters wide and 2 meters wide. The painting was discovered in the Louvre Museum in 2016 after decades of disappearance after the war. When it was discovered, the painting had been damaged very much, and almost half of the picture was destroyed.

According to relevant sources, this piece of “Water Lily” was completed in 1916. It was purchased by Matsuo Yujiro in 1921 in the studio of Monet. After the outbreak of World War II, Matsumoto Yujiro transported his collection of paintings to Paris to escape the war. In 1959, when the French government returned 375 pieces of Matsui’s collection in Japan, it may have been forgotten in the storeroom of the Louvre because the damage to the “water lily” was too serious.

In the past year, perhaps the reason that the painting has been seriously damaged, the French government agreed to return the painting to Japan and was collected by the National Museum of Japan. After getting the work, the National Museum of Western Art also formed a team to repair the painting.

This figure was restored as Monet’s “Water Lilies: Willow Reflection” placed at the entrance of the “Songfang Collection Exhibition”, and the original restoration was exhibited at the end of the exhibition. It is a great pleasure to see the final original and can’t help but look back.

In fact, looking at the collection of Matsumoto from another angle, it is not difficult to see that the Japanese people really like the Impressionists. The collection of these masterpieces by wealthy entrepreneurs in modern Japan is, in a sense, also a way for Japan to “modernize” – after the Meiji Restoration in Japan, it has always advocated Western science, culture and art. Through the collection of Western art, it seems that Japan has Opportunities can enter modern Western games to gain an equal place or a voice.

Nowadays, although most of the collections have nothing to do with Matsumoto himself, it is undeniable that it is because of the possession of such a family as Matsugata that the high-quality private art museums in Japan are everywhere; Monet, Van Gogh The work really enters the daily life of the Japanese people and the exhibition.