Still Life (Figured Cloth)

NagaiThomas - Still Life, Figured Cloth.JPG

Dublin Core



Precise outlines and imaginative color blending give this watercolor a distinctive appearance. It departs from most still lifes in giving a “ground-level” perspective of its subject matter—almost as a terrain. Fruit, flowers, and vegetables all make an appearance, along with a southwestern water vessel. Along the ground and as a sort of horizontal range are three, perhaps four patterned cloths against a gray-washed background. A note on the title: most New Deal Gallery records give the paintings title as “Still Life”; it’s not clear why the later title was added, and the frame doesn’t permit closer examination.

About the Artist: Born in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, Nagai immigrated to the US in 1906, initially with a plan to study law but soon returning to his love of art—a grandfather and uncle both had been painters. In New York he studied at the Art Students’ League with Thomas Hart Benton for five years, whose influence can be seen in Nagai’s “Picnic” (1929) with its treatment of massy figures arranged in deep space. In 1928 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s art critic, Helen Appleton Read, singled out Nagai’s painting “Tea” as one of three “discoveries” from more than 1,000 exhibits at the Society of Independent Artists. He went on to exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Musuem of Art, and the ACA Gallery, among many venues. His “Japanese Landscape” appeared in a 1939 FAP exhibit on Long Island, focused upon farms and rural life; fellow NDG artists Louis Harris, Bena Frank, and Herman Copen also appeared. Many of In 1936 Nagai signed the Call for the American Artists’ Congress, an anti-fascist popular front organization. Near the end of his life Nagai and his artist wife Paula Rosen retired to Orlando, FL area. 1 work at the Whitney Museum of American Art. 2 more images at FAP.


Nagai, Tomizo (“Thomas”), 1886-1966








Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format


Physical Dimensions

18.5 x 13.5 in.
Condition: paper buckled