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Audio: Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Nu allongé à la toile de Jouy
Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)
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Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)

Nu allongé à la toile de Jouy

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)
Nu allongé à la toile de Jouy
signed, dated and inscribed 'Foujita 1949 N.Y.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
30 x 40 1/8 in. (75 x 100 cm.)
Painted in New York in 1949
Galerie Taménaga, Tokyo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2002.
S. and D. Buisson, La vie et l'oeuvre de Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita, Paris, 1987, vol. 1, p. 457, no. 49.05 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

In 1947, not long after the conclusion of the Second World War, Foujita received an old friend from Paris, the left-wing poet and journalist Harry Roskolenko, at his Tokyo home. In the course of the visit, the embattled artist mused about his dearth of American support and the possibility of inroads into the country's comparatively prosperous post-war market: "I have sold only three paintings to the Americans... They do not know of me. They do not come and so I am hungry. I want to leave. Can you get me a visa to America? Can you get me a big exhibition?" (quoted in P. Birnbaum, Glory in a Line, A Life of Foujita, The Artist Caught Between East and West, New York, 2006, p. 274).

Despite the poorly received exhibition which Roskolenko arranged for the artist at the Kennedy & Company Galleries in New York in September 1947, Foujita would make it there himself two short years later on the strength of teaching positions at the Brooklyn Art and New Schools. Owing to simmering post-war tensions, the artist ended up working at neither. The present nude was executed during this nonetheless fecund year, in which he enjoyed his own one-man show at the Mathias Komor Gallery in November before returning to France on 27 January 1950.

In Nu allongé à la toile de Jouy, Foujita boldly returns to the reclining nude motif which he first explored, to immediate acclaim, in the early 1920s: "Foujita liked to depict nude women just as they were, without making them the subject of allegory or history. For a long time he remained particularly fond of painting nudes lying down, as can be seen, for example, in Reclining Nude with a Cat or Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy. It is their simplicity, serenity, and purity of line that makes his nudes at once so lifelike and so chaste. The way the forms are modeled, with scarcely any shading and very little color, recalls the stump technique the artist used so often in his drawings. Thiébault Sisson wrote of Foujita, "It is the relief without shading of M. Ingres--with whom, indeed, Foujita seems to have as much in common as with his Japanese ancestors--a relief which is suggested, at least in its essentials, merely by the supple arabesques of the lines'" (J. Selz, Foujita, New York, 1981, pp. 32 and 61).

The toile de Jouy or "Jouy Print" curtains framing the present composition took their name from the celebrated textile factory at Jouy-en-Josas (near Versailles). These Jouy Print patterns--linen fabric printed with designs of landscapes and figures--and stark juxtaposition between the sitter's alabaster skin and black background vividly recall the artist's monumental nudes of the 1920s (fig. 1; Buisson, no. 22.06).

(fig. 1) Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita, Nu à la toile de Jouy. Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

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