Gustav Jacoby

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Gustav Jacoby, a German Art Collector

Philanthropy and Passion:
Gustav Jacoby and his Collection of Japanese Art
by Wolfgang Klose,
professor of theoretical physics, University of Saarbruecken and the University of Karlsruhe

Gustav Jacoby, 1910

Gustav Jacoby (1856 - 1921)
was one of the great German collectors of Japanese art in the early 20th century, deeply committed to enhancing public awareness and knowledge of Japanese art and crafts. His personal holdings of sword decorations and lacquerware in particular exceeded many museum collections of his time. Jacoby started collecting Japanese art seriously in 1899, and as early as 1903 was able to publish a series of sword guards from his collection in a catalogue.

The first public exhibition of Jacoby's private collection in Berlin 1904, "Small Works of Japanese Art", featured almost 1,200 objects. Jacoby was extremely generous, and made large material and financial contributions to the East Asian collections of several institutions: for instance, Jacoby helped transform the East Asian Art Collection in Berlin in 1919, donating virtually his entire collection.

Unfortunately, the pieces he donated, together with the vast majority of the collection's other pre-war holdings, were confiscated as war booty by the Soviet Army and removed to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, where they still remain today.

© ORIENTATIONS, Vol. 37, No.7 (October 2006), p.44-48

In the article by Wolfgang Klose is a mention of a Buddhist scroll in the Jacoby collection, which has been described in the "Ostasiatische Zeitschrift 1, 1912/13 pp. 226 - 35:
"Der Bōdhidharma der Sammlung G. Jacoby"
by William Cohn.

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