Strong Woman and Child

Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Strong Woman and Child, 1925, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.50
Copied Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Strong Woman and Child, 1925, oil on canvas, 57 1444 78 in. (145.4114.0 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1986.6.50

Artwork Details

Strong Woman and Child
57 1444 78 in. (145.4114.0 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape
  • Figure group — female and child
  • Performing arts — circus
  • Object — other — flag
  • Object — other — flag
Object Number

Artwork Description

Kuniyoshi's paintings often encoded his experience as a Japanese immigrant in the United States, where, in the 1920s, anti-Asian discrimination was pervasive and restrictive immigration laws prevented him from becoming a citizen. (His wife, Katherine Schmidt, was disowned by her wealthy family when they married.) He painted Strong Woman and Child while in Paris, where the liberal environment and friendships with other artists, among them Alexander Calder, provided a sense of freedom and emotional support. The strong woman of the title is a circus performer who stands on a stage, French flags entwined at the backdrop. The mother figure, who may be a stand-in for Katherine, affirms her protective relationship with the child, who seems perhaps a symbolic portrayal of the artist himself.

Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection, 2014

Related Books

The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi
Painter, photographer, and printmaker Yasuo Kuniyoshi immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1906 and began a journey through New York City, Europe, and Japan that forged his unique painting style. In The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Tom Wolf charts the artist's life and career through sixty-six of the artist's best paintings and drawings. What emerges is a richly complex portrait of an artist navigating the social, cultural, and political challenges of his adopted homeland.


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Modern American Realism: Highlights from the Sara Roby Foundation Collection
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Artist to Artist
October 1, 2021May 18, 2025
Artist to Artist features paired artworks, each representing two figures whose trajectories intersected at a creatively crucial moment, whether as student and teacher, professional allies, or friends.