From artnet.com. By Erica Eisen. Posted on 4/23/18.
Dubbed “the most important philanthropic auction ever” by Christie’s, the sale offers an opportunity to reflect on the collecting habits of an American dynasty whose members rank among the nation’s most influential patrons of the arts. Of the many stories bound up in the collection of the Rockefellers, one of the most interesting for scholars and aficionados of non-Western art is the history of how America came to appreciate East Asian sculpture—which for so long had been relegated to the sphere of anthropologists—as works of art evincing technical and philosophical complexity.
At the heart of this shift in perception was Yamanaka Sadajirō, a Japanese art dealer who counted the Rockefellers among his clients and who was among the first to make the case that the Neolithic bronzes and Buddhist sculptures he showed were masterworks, deserving scholarly attention rather than gawking curiosity.