Snug Harbor

Amemiya--Snug Harbor--small.jpg

Dublin Core



It’s possible that somewhere there is a Sung Harbor represented by this painting, but it’s more likely a typographical misreading of Snug Harbor—just across the water from New York on Staten Island. Sailor’s Snug Harbor was created in 1833 via a bequest from Robert Richard Randall’s estate; merchant seamen with no pensions were given a home in an expanding campus, some of whose dormitories are perhaps depicted in the background. Amemiya manages to fit more than a dozen sailboats into his compositon without it feeling cramped. Gentle wave movement against the sides of the boats, created by small overlapping brush strokes, create a sense of serenity.

About the Artist
: Born in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan, to a high-achieving family, Amemiya (whose name sometimes was spelled as “Amemya”) immigrated in 1908 to Tacoma, WA, where he painted designs on Christmas boxes and worked as a photograph retoucher. He moved to New York City by 1914, where he was encouraged in his art by the architectural photographer John Wallace Gillies. During the 1920s Amemiya was making ends meet via architectural and commercial photography while gaining artistic recognition: “He had his own views on lenses, focussing, composition, development, toning and printing, and the enlargements which he made from his snapshots displayed ever-incrasing grasp of arrangement, lighting, and artistic sensibility” (Arts & Decoration 17 (Oct. 1922): 411). Amemiya’s paintings of “the misty Hudson in early morning” likewise were admired by art collectors, albeit filtered through a racial lens of Orientalism: “Though the familiar heights above Morningside and Harlem are plainly to be recognized, there is a distinctly oriental slant to the view and the sloop with snowy sails might be drifting about the China sea” (Washington Evening Star 29 Oct. 1922: 48). “It is true,” said Amemiya, “that sometimes when I see landscapes and groups of people I see my own country and my own countrymen, and almost inevitably I give them what you call a Japanese atmosphere. I do not think I am wrong to do so, do you?” 1 photograph in Photo-Miniature. 2 photographs in Shadowland.


Amemiya, Yosei, 1888-1977








Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Oil painting

Physical Dimensions

20 x 23 in.
Condition: surface dirt