Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita - May, ou La Chienne noire allaitant - image-1

Lot 667 R

Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita - May, ou La Chienne noire allaitant

Auction 1013 - overview Cologne
25.05.2013, 11:30 - Modern Art May 25 2013
Estimate: 80.000 € - 100.000 €
Result: 85.400 € (incl. premium)

Oil on fine canvas 45.7 x 53.5 cm, framed. Signed, dated, titled and inscribed 'Tsuguharu Foujita "May" 1939 LES Eyzies' in Japanese and Arabic lower right. - A small retouching to outermost right margin at signature level.

Buisson vol. 2, 39.37

Rau Collection for UNICEF

Tsuguharu Foujita was a great animal lover, as witnessed by his countless works on paper and paintings of cats. However, he rather rarely painted dogs. When we compare his works, we almost get the impression that Foujita was interested in the very nature of cats, whereas dogs were apparently more of interest to him for their outer appearance. In 1922 he painted a large-format picture entitled "Chiens savants ou Carneval des chiens", depicting three Dalmatians, a Pekingese, a spitz, two mongrels and two poodles - nine in all - partly clad with vests and head covers and lined up around an arena as if performing in a circus (see Buisson, vol. 2, 22.12, colour illus. in: Sylvie Buisson, Foujita et ses amis du Montparnasse, Paris 2010, pp. 74/75). His attribution of human features to animals reminds us of Fontaine's Fables, illustrated by Grandville, which must have been known to Foujita.

The writer and art critic André Salmon paid tribute to the artist's interest in 1928. "Foujita triomphe dans la peinture des animaux; les animaux lui ont gagné le coeur des hommes: à mesure que notre siècle devient plus méchant, son amour des bêtes s'accroît. (Est-ce un signe de décadence ou un espoir à l'horizon?) Nous vivons sous le signe du chat et du chien, en art comme en politique." (quoted from Buisson, vol. 2, p. 44)

The dog shown here is an excessively trimmed female poodle called "May" whom Foujita "portrayed" with her litter of puppies and without any auxiliary human figures. The main focus is on her suspicious glances as she supervises the peaceful food intake of her touchingly wobbly newly-borns. Foujita further specifies that he painted this picture in the small town of Les Eyzies de Tayac in the Dordogne, in the south of France, where Foujita and his wife Kimiyo and other friends had withdrawn briefly from Paris in 1939 and where such an elegant dog was a very rare occurrence.


Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner; Sotheby's London, Impressionist and Modern Paintings and Sculpture, Part II, 5 December 1984, lot 197


Osaka/Tokyo/Nagoya 1968 (Grand Magasin Daimaru/Galerie Nichido/Grand Magasin Matsuzakaya), Foujita à Paris; Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto/Hiroshima/Fukuoka/Paris 1986/1987 (Odakyu Grande Galerie/Galerie d'Art Daimaru/Galerie d'Art Daimaru/Musée Préfectoral d'Art de Hiroshima/Musée Préfectoral d'Art de Fukuoka/Musée de Montmatre), Léonard Foujita. Exposition pour le centenaire de Foujita, cat. no. 68 with colour illus.