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Kuroda Seiki and Grez-sur-Loing

Travel to Grez | Kuroda and Grez | About Grez

Grez-sur-Loing, the Site of Kuroda's Study Abroad

In May of 1888, during his period of study in France, Kuroda was the first Japanese artist to visit the small village of Grez-sur-Loing. Afterwards Kuroda rented a room in the village and painted works that would later be considered among the masterworks of his French period, including "Woman Reading" (Tokyo National Museum), "Portrait of a Woman (Kitchen)" (Museum, Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music), "A Girl with Red Hair" (Kuroda Memorial Hall), and so forth. This village, along with Paris, was a site that greatly stimulated Kuroda's development as a painter.

Grez-sur-Loing is located roughly sixty kilometers southeast of Paris and approximately twelve kilometers southwest of Fontainbleau. The Loing River is a tributary of the Seine River, and even today the surrounding scenery resembles that of a century ago.

Grez-sur-Loing as an artists' colony
Artists began visiting the village of Grez from around the 1860s, and by the time of Kuroda’s first visit in the company of an American painter, there were artists and composers from America, Britain and northern Europe staying there. It has been said that the Loing River running though the village gave it a charm missing from the well-known and established artists’ colonies at Barbizon and Fontainebleau.

Other artists, including Asai Chu, Wada Eisaku, Okada Saburosuke, Shirataki Ikunosuke, Kojima Torajiro, Totori Eiki and Yasui Sotaro, have visited Grez since Kuroda.
At Fontainebleau in 1891 (Meiji 24). Kuroda (front, seated), Kume Keiichiro (back right). This excursion was mentioned in a letter to his mother dated 5th of March.
The artist's studio
Around July of 1890 (Meiji 23), Kuroda moved to Grez and rented a house from the Billaut sisters, one of whom, Maria, modeled for "Woman Reading" and "Woman Knittin". The artist devoted himself to his work with the house as his base and center of his life until December 1892. The sisters' house was a large stone-fenced farmhouse located on the edge of the village.

According to Kuroda, the house was about a six tatami sized two story property. He had a studio-kitchen in a wooden floored room behind an earthen floor room on the first floor, while the second floor was used as a bedroom and living room.
A plan of Kuroda's studio by his own hand. Kuroda'ss diary and his memoirs describe his everyday life and work during his Grez period.

Works of the Grez preiod

A Field

Willow Trees

Woman Knitting

Withered Field (Grez)

Pork-Butcher's Shop



Lingering Snow

Landscape (Grez)

A Girl with Red Hair

Woman Knitting
©Independent Administrative Institution National Institutes for Cultural Heritage Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties