In 1913, at the age of twenty-seven, Foujita left Japan for France, where he would quickly make the acquaintance of many artists including Pablo Picasso, Chaïm Soutine, Amedeo Modigliani, and Moïse Kisling, and would learn from and exchange various ideas with them. In 1917 he met and fell in love with Fernande Barrey, a young painter studying in Montparnasse, and married her soon thereafter. It was in this period that Foujita experienced his first major successes, exhibiting six works at the Salon d’Automne in 1919, two more in 1920, and three in 1921, becoming a leading member of the Ecole de Paris. Unfortunately, with professional success came the dissolution of his marriage to Fernande, who would quickly be replaced by the fair-skinned and cheerful Lucie Badoul, nicknamed “Youki” by the artist. Foujita and Youki married in 1924, and his new wife would serve as his muse and principal model for the next decade.
Painted in 1931, Nu is a beautiful example of Foujita’s explorations of the reclining nude motif, which he began 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 Nu allongé au chat (Buisson, no. 21.05) or Nu à la toile de Jouy (Buisson, no. 22.06). 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).