Leonard Foujita Portrait of a man
Lot 2158
LEONARD TSUGUHARU FOUJITA (1886-1968) Portrait of a young man
Sold for US$ 36,600 inc. premium
Auction Details
Leonard Foujita Portrait of a man Leonard Foujita Portrait of a man
Lot Details
LEONARD TSUGUHARU FOUJITA (1886-1968)
Portrait of a young man
Oil on canvas; signed in Japanese (lower left) Oite Pari Tsuguharu and in Roman script T. Foujita, the reverse signed in Japanese Oite Pari Fujita Tsuguharu and in Roman script T. Foujita Paris, and with date 1920
28 1/2 x 22 1/2in (72.4 x 57.2cm)

Footnotes

  • Foujita was born in Tokyo but spent a great deal of his life in France. He first arrived in Montparnasse in 1913 and spent the next 16 years there finding success from his paintings of beautiful women. He was friendly with the most influential and up-and-coming artists of Paris such as Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and others. Foujita was one of the few among them who made money as an artist in his early years. In 1931 he left France to travel to South America and eventually back to Japan, where he stayed until the end of World War II. He died in Switzerland in 1968.

    This work dates to the period when he was at the height of his fame in France. Following his 1918 landmark exhibition, which featured nude portraits of Man Ray's model Kiki, Foujita was embraced by the public as a brilliant new talent. This work of an unidentified sitter features all of the hallmark elements of Foujita's portrait painting. The black ink-like outlines, the flat planes of color and the one-dimensionality typical of his work all call to mind traditional Japanese painting.

    The current owners of this painting purchased it at a small antique shop in Towaco, New Jersey in 1954. Their intention at the time was to re-use the canvas for a portrait of their young daughter, not realizing the identity of the painter. For various reasons, their daughter's portrait was put on hold and the painting was put in a closet. Several years later they chanced upon a reproduction in a magazine of one of Foujita's iconic works and realized it was by the same hand that had done their painting. The painting was hung on the wall soon thereafter.
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