Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita - Nu assoupi, Youki - image-1

Lot 322 D

Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita - Nu assoupi, Youki

Auction 1070 - overview Cologne
03.06.2016, 18:00 - Modern Art
Estimate: 100.000 € - 150.000 €
Result: 198.400 € (incl. premium)

Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita

Nu assoupi, Youki

Oil and brush and India ink on very fine canvas 60.2 x 73 cm Framed under glass. Signed and dated 'Tsugu Haru Foujita 1926' in brush and India ink partially in Japanese characters in lower left margin. - Minor traces of age such as slight craqueleur and occasional minute retouched losses of colour. The canvas overlap slightly worn through on stretcher frame corners.

Educated at the Academy of Fine Art in Tokyo, Foujita moved to Paris in 1913. He was soon accepted into Montparnasse's circle of avant-garde artists, and from 1925 his paintings were shown in the important exhibitions of Paris, Berlin, London, New York and Chicago. The Belgian Lucie Badoud, whom he would later marry as his second wife, was one of the models who sat for him; he called her “Youki”.
This long-unknown painting by Foujita belongs to a sequence of large-format nudes and portraits on a white ground from the second half of the 1920s, and it is an example of the balanced alliance formed between traditional Japanese art - in terms of craft as well as mental history - and the European avant-garde with art deco influences.
The chalk made of ground seashells - Japanese painters' preferred means for creating the white female faces corresponding to their ideal of beauty - and the fine lineation carried out with an ink brush derive from the tools of Japanese painting; Japanese brushes and ink blocks are often found as decorative attributes in Foujita's self-portraits (see, e.g. Buisson, vol. 1, 26.62, 26.63, 31.12, 31.13).
However, the model is European and, in this case, strawberry blonde. This is also what sparks the peculiarly fascinating quality of this outstanding example for the most important phase in Foujita's oeuvre: the animate-inanimate, the sculptural-linear, the relationship between the image's monumental structure and the white void of the pictorial space - all of which has been realised in a ballet-like, elegiac pose and constitutes the special charm of this likeness of “Youki”.

Catalogue Raisonné

Not recorded by Buisson


With a photo-certificate by Sylvie Buisson, Paris, dated 22 April 2010. The painting will be included in the 4th volume of the catalogue raisonné (archive no. D26.241.H).


Private collection Chemnitz (acquired in the art trade in 1926), in succession since, private possession North Rhine-Westphalia; Private collection, Rhineland


Loiret 2010 (Château de Chamerolles), Foujita et ses amis du Montparnasse, no cat. no., p. 93 with colour illus.