Japanese American National Museum > Sugimoto (Henry) Collection > Two Nuns and Church

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Two Nuns and Church
Sugimoto, Henry
Date Created and/or Issued
Publication Information
Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Contributing Institution
Japanese American National Museum
Sugimoto (Henry) Collection
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Signed in medium, bottom left corner: H. Sugimoto, 1931
Unstretched, unframed canvas. The primary subject is a French church, possibly the Eglise de Rampillon (see Historical Note), a Gothic structure with a single tower, arched windows, and what may be flying buttresses along its sides. Two nuns in traditional habit with their backs to the viewer are walking on the sidewalk around the left side of the church. A road curves around the left. A stylized tree, bare of leaves, stands at lower right.
This painting reflects Sugimoto's early interest in the churches and cathedrals of France. The church itself is likely the Eglise de Rampillon, a particularly beautiful example of Gothic architecture in east central France near the rural town of Tigeaux. As a young painter, Sugimoto seems to have been captivated by the Seine Marne region, also a favorite of Dunoyer De Segonzac, one of Sugimoto's primary influences. Like De Segonzac, Sugimoto traveled and painted in the area seeking vistas that incorporated architectural forms into the French country landscape. Sugimoto captures the powerful masonry effects of the church through a palette of deep grays matched in the color of the sky. The layered composition of the painting mirrors the architecture of the church itself and Sugimoto uses vertical brushstrokes to build the geometric forms. He reserves his more fluid, open brushstrokes for the trees and ground surrounding the church, a technique that emphasizes the contrast b! etween the solidity of the church and the dynamism of the natural world. The branches of the tree on the lower right swirl like flames while the church stands locked in a timeless realm.
Painting oil on canvas France