Private Collection as Collective Operation: Art Dealers’ Impacts on the Formation of the Van Horne Japanese Ceramic Collection
This article examines the ways how the formation of the Japanese ceramic collection of Sir William Van Horne (1843-1915) in Montreal was informed by art dealers and the global market of Japanese ceramics in the late 19th to early 20th century. Van Horne’s dealers, based in Japan and the US, played a significant role in the way Van Horne collected and perceived Japanese ceramics, because Van Horne never went to Japan and acquired objects only from them. Van Horne’s decisions about what to collect were not simply determined by his own judgment, but were also affected by external factors such as the availability of Japanese objects in the Western market at the time, and the intellectual landscape and the broad trends within the Euro-American circle of collecting Japanese ceramics. Furthermore, these currents in “collecting Japan” themselves did not occur naturally: they were in fact informed by the intentions, concerns and desires of influential dealers, collectors, and scholars. When looking at the establishment of a collection not only from the collector’s taste, but also from these external factors, a collection can be understood as a complex space in which multiple subjectivities and economies are intertwined.
Van Horne Family Fonds. Art Gallery of Ontario Archives, Toronto.
Sir William Van Horne Fonds. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Archive, Montreal.
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