One of the best-known Japanese painters working in oil in the Western style and a member of the avant-garde Hukubakai (White Horse Society), Fujishima had already influenced a generation of artists at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts when he made a seminal trip to France and Italy in 1905 under the aegis of the Japanese Ministry of Education. In Paris he studied with Fernand Cormon at the Academie de la Grand Chaumière and was profoundly affected by the 1907 Cézanne retrospective. Seeking southern light and clarity of expression, Fujishima pursued his studies at the French Academy in Rome under the instruction of Charles E.A. Carolus-Duran.
Fujishima returned to Japan in 1910, and the immediacy of his European-period paintings gave way to more extensively detailed and refined pictures. He sought an integration of East and West in pictorial as well as philosophical terms, and found in the work of the painters of the Italian Renaissance, particularly Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci, an approximation of his ideal of quiet simplicity.