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(Japanese, 1867-1943)
Temple in Tainan
signed 'T.F.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
45.5 x 60.7 cm. (17 7/8 x 23 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1933-1934
Private Collection, Japan

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Lot Essay

Takeji Fujishima was born in 1867 in Kagoshima, Japan. He was academically trained from a young age in the traditional Japanese nihonga style. However, he quickly gravitated towards the western-influenced yoga style that was emerging at the time, and thus started to study oil painting. After graduating and teaching Western Painting in Tokyo for some years, Fujishima's thirst for knowledge brought him to the /AEcole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he studied historical painting, and later the French Academy in Rome where he studied portraiture. Bringing with him a strong foundation in Western academic painting, he returned to Japan in 1910 and soon took on the position of Professor of Western Painting at the Tokyo Art School. In this role, Fujishima played a large part in influencing the generations of Japanese artists that followed.
With an Imperial commission to travel outside of Japan to search for new subject matter for his work, Fujishima made his first trip to Taiwan in October of 1933. It was around this time that he painted Portrait of a Taiwanese Lady (Lot 215) and Temple in Tainan (Lot 216). Portrait of a Taiwanese Lady depicts a young female figure in profile, a compositional style popular during the European Renaissance and favored by Fujishima. Though painted in oil, the image maintains a translucent watercolor-like quality and a flat picture plane, highlighting the artist's sweeping brushwork and bright pigments. His use of bright pigments is further demonstrated in Temple in Tainan, in which the vivid red-browns of the architecture combined with the subtle rays of light peering through the trees give the viewer a strong sense of the place. The trees and architecture are delineated with a dark outline. While Fujishima is often credited for the romantic and impressionist influences that he fused into yoga style painting, these works demonstrate that what truly set him apart was his continued upholding of a strong Japanese aesthetic in his works.

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