Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953)
Property from an East Coast Estate
Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953)

Boy With Cow

Yasuo Kuniyoshi (1889-1953)
Boy With Cow
oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 20 in. (41 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1921.
The artist.
Samuel Lewisohn, New York, acquired from the above.
By descent to the late owners.
Survey Graphic, vol. 31, 1942, p. 276, illustrated.
Y. Kuniyoshi, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, New York, 1945, n.p., illustrated.
"The Art Galleries; A Kuniyoshi Retrospective," The New Yorker, vol. 24, 1948, p. 72.
Fukutake Publishing, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Okayama, Japan, 1991, pp. 71, 213, no. 69, illustrated.
The Shores of a Dream: Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Early Work in America, exhibition catalogue, Fort Worth, Texas, 1996, pp. 46, 60, illustrated.
G. Levin, "Between Two Worlds: Folk Culture, Identity, and the American Art of Yasuo Kuniyoshi," Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 43, no. 3/4, 2003, p. 9.
New York, The Downtown Gallery, Kuniyoshi Retrospective Loan Exhibition, 1921-1941, May 5-29, 1942, no. 1, cover illustration.
London, The Tate Gallery, American Painting from the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, June-July 1946.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Retrospective Exhibition, March 27-May 9, 1948, no. 2.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Walker Art Center, Pictures for the Home: An Exhibition at the Walker Art Center of 44 Contemporary American Paintings Assembled from Museums, Galleries, and Private Collections Throughout the Country, May 21-July 2, 1950.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Lewisohn Collection: A Catalogue of the Paintings, Water Colors and Drawings, Prints, and Sculpture Shown in a Special Exhibition, November 2-December 2, 1951, pp. 14, 73, no. 45, illustrated.
Boston, Massachusetts, Boston University Art Gallery, Retrospective Exhibition: Yasuo Kuniyoshi, February 24-March 18, 1961, no. 3.
Austin, Texas, University of Texas at Austin, University Art Museum; Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, Elvehjem Art Center; Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia, Georgia Museum of Art; Tokyo, Japan, Bridgestone Museum; Nagoya, Japan, Prefectural Museum of Aichi; Kobe, Japan, Hyogo Prefectural Museum; Windsor, Canada, The Art Gallery of Windsor, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1889-1953: A Retrospective Exhibition, February 9, 1975-February 8, 1976.

Lot Essay

Yasuo Kuniyoshi's works from the 1920s frequently included cows, and he estimated that his fascination with the animal motivated about sixty paintings and drawings over a two to three year period. Explaining the inspiration behind these works, Kuniyoshi said, "The horse is a splendid animal, but the cow is more irregular. You can make more of it." (as quoted in North American Prints, 1913-1947: An Examination at Century's End, Syracuse, New York, 2006, p. 101) Indeed, although still largely realistic, the bovine in the early Boy With Cow of 1921 features an angular head and hindquarters and a massive body, which would become more exaggerated in his later works of the series, such as Little Joe With Cow (1923, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas).

Kuniyoshi later reflected in 1940, "I was painting cows and cows at the time because somehow I felt very near the cow. Besides I thought I understood the animal. You see I was born, judging by the Japanese calendar, in a 'cow year.' According to legend I believed my fate to be guided, more or less, by the bovine kingdom." (as quoted in North American Prints, 1913-1947: An Examination at Century's End, p. 101)

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