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Portrait of Sissee See

Okubo, Benji [ bio ]

Portrait of Sissee See
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H: 12 in, W: 11 in, Frame: 23.5 x 19 in

California, 1927-1945


Gift of Chisato Okubo


Stretched and framed.

Portrait of a woman, Florence Leong See, with dusty rose skin, coral lips, yellow eyes, and black and wavy hair on sea foam green hued background. Visible from the neck up, the woman is turned three-quarters view of the proper right side of her face and looks toward the right edge. Young and attractivve, she wears a bright lime hair band with flowers tucked underneath and what appears to be a corsage on her lapel.
The artist uses a pallete of muted complementary colors, primarily reds (as coral and rose) and greens (as lime, sage and sea foam green). The usage of these colors side by side serve to brighten their hues and give the painting a luminosity and brightness. The bust of the woman is centrally placed in the canvas, and the image is cropped at the top of her head. The shading is softly modeled, and the fine details of the woman's hair, brows, eyes, lips, nose and ears are rendered in precise and elegant contour lines. The hair in particular has a grace and rhythmic quality in its fluid lines. The style of the painting is influenced by synchronism and is similar to Hideo Date's portraits; both depict graceful and solid women using a balance of form, rhythm and color harmony to attract and excite the viewer.

The woman depicted is young, lovely and full of vitality. The flowers in her hair and boom emphasize the freshness of youth. The glow of light on her face seems to reflect an inner glow in her character. Although the artist successfully depicts a woman who is beautiful and youthful, he also reveals her inner side through her expression and posture -- intelligent, thoughtful and strong.

In pencil, on wood of frame: B. Okubo, 3931 Rome Ct.

When the portrait was created, Sissee See was not married yet. She was later known as Mrs. Gilbert Leong. (K. Higa, 5/19/05)

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management & Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (



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