Japanese American National Museum
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Cluny Museum

Sugimoto, Henry [ bio ]

Cluny Museum
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L: 26 in, W: 32 in, D: .75 in

France, ca. 1931


Gift of Madeleine Sugimoto and Naomi Tagawa, Japanese American National Museum


Stretched and framed.

Cluny Museum and grounds, Paris. In the foreground a grassy area is intersected by a path which recedes from lower left corner into a large stand of bare trees upper right. A white figure appears before trees and behind a low circular structure, possibly a moss-covered fountain. On the left, across the path, a blue cylindrical object abuts a tree and a row of brown buildings that recede into the background left. The sky is overcast.

Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H. Sugimoto Written on back, top center: Cluny Museum, 32" x 26"

The Cluny Museum was constructed on the site of an ancient Roman thermal bath, land which was purchased by the Cluny Benedictines in 1330. The structure featured in Sugimoto's painting was begun in the 15th century by Jacques d'Amboise and housed abbots and papal nuncios in the 17th century before becoming a museum in the 1800s. The mysterious white-clad figure, which may be holding a child in her arms, has possible Symbolist overtones. It also manifests a spirituality or religiosity that could be derived from the setting and/or Sugimoto's own religious involvement, which became especially strong later in his life. The composition is potentially derived from the work of Henri Puvis de Chavannes, and Cezanne's influence is also evident in the architectural elements. The abundance of greens reflects Sugimoto's interest in nature and atmosphere during this period.

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