Portrait de Jeune Femme (Portrait of a Young Lady)

Portrait de Jeune Femme (Portrait of a Young Lady)
signed and inscribed 'Foujita Paris' (lower left), inscribed, signed and dated '2F Foujita 1952' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
24.5 x 19.5 cm. (9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in.)
Painted in 1952
Galerie Romanet, Algiers, Algeria
Private Collection, France (acquired from the above circa. 1955)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Sylvie Buisson has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

In early 1950 after ten years spent in Japan, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita and his wife Kimiyo moved back to France, a change which enabled the artist to reconnect with his friends from the Parisian art scene. Foujita relished the opportunity to get his paintings on gallery walls and proceeded to accumulated gallery shows and portrait commissions. Two months after his arrival, his friend and gallery owner Paul Pétridès organised an exhibition of fifty paintings, and by the end of the year, André Romanet invited him to participate in exhibitions in Algeria which was to be the catalyst to Foujita's travels in Africa.

By the time of his return to France, Foujita's era of painting nudes was over. Instead, the artist turned his attention to focus on characterful portraits of young women and girls, as he stated in 1950 "In reaction to such violent times, I prefer imagining very soft and childish subject matters." The three paintings offered here beautifully embody the sentiments of serenity, calm and playfulness that Foujita is known for at this time, depicting the child, the adolescent and the young woman within a range of contexts with very fine and elegant lines from Foujita's assured hand. Foujita developed this type of doll-like portraiture in the early 1950s. He collected dolls, made of wax or porcelain, and would observe them from below, a characteristically Japanese point of view. This methodology would consequently enlarge his model's eyes, uncover her neck, and reinforce her chin's oval shape. Foujita furthermore adopts a restrained and pearlescent palette, highlighting the porcelain features of the figures. This wonderful group of three paintings by Foujita therefore represents a uniquely emblematic trio of the artist's work from this time.

In 1955, André Romanet organised one last exhibition before returning to France of Foujita's recent paintings. These three paintings were on display in that very show and were bought by a couple of French private collectors living in Algiers at the time. The paintings followed them as they moved back to France, and have stayed in the family since, treasured within their care and now being presented to market for the very first time.

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