Description & Technical information

Born in Japan in 1886, Foujita was raised during the Meiji era, a
time of opening for the country and notably to Western cultures. He
studied at the School of Fine Arts in Tokyo till 1910. In 1913 he moved
to Paris where he quickly became one the most famous artists of the
Années Folles (1920-1929), both by his style and by his sense of
celebration and friendships with the most important artists at the time
such as Picasso, Derain, Apollinaire, Modigliani, Soutine, Van Dongen,
Chagall, Pascin, Zadkine and in general every personalities of the first
hours of the Ecole de Paris.

Influenced by Michel-Ange, Poussin
and Rodin, Foujita enjoyed success with a personal style, his milky
background that catch the light and the subtle contours in Chinese ink
of his subjects. Imbued with the European modernity, he would keep an
Oriental accuracy and simplicity, mixing "the rigor of the Japanese line
with the freedom of Matisse" as he said himself.

Our "Maternité"
is a perfect compilation of Foujita's influences, preferred themes and
personal beliefs, revealing the artist's innovative style. His method
mostly consists in painting Western subjects and models with Eastern
pictorial techniques. In this work, however, the artist combines both
Eastern and Western techniques. Eastern influence can be found in the
contrast between the transparency of the watercolour and the thin line
in black ink defining the shapes as well as in the type of paper used,
while the utilisation of gold leaves evokes the religious icons of the
European Medieval times and Renaissance.
Foujita has always been
reputed for his paintings of women and children. Therefore, the theme of
the Madonna and the Child appears like a logic choice here. Foujita's
interest for Christianism led him to a conversion, in 1959, after which
he took the name Léonard, as an homage to Da Vinci. His true veneration
of the latter occurs here through the adoption of a similar beauty canon
but also by the cave's figuration which reminds of the rocky pictorial
devices in Leonardo Da Vinci's works. Foujita's frequent visits of to
museums in France and his travel to Italy gave him enough models to
reproduce and to adapt with his own personal perception. This
composition was painted with the sobriety and meticulousness proper to
the artist. The religious overtone is ingeniously brought by the skilful
use of the gold leaves but the apparent naivety of the characters'
features reminds us of Foujita's secular portraits, displaying a strong
feeling of innocence and purity.

Date:  1953
Period:  20th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Oil and gold leaf on canvas
Dimensions: 41 x 33 cm (16¹/₈ x 13 inches)

Sylvie Buisson, Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita, Catalogue Raisonné, ACR
Edition, photo in color during the exhibition of the artist at the
Pinacoteca, Barcelona, 1953, p.121.

This work will be reproduced
under the n°D57.167.H in the Volume IV of the Catalogue Général des
Oeuvres de Foujita being prepared by Sylvie Buisson and is recorded in
the Archives artistiques of the artist.


Romanet Gallery, Exhibition Foujita, 1953, Barcelona.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints