Lot 1009
  • 1009

LÉONARD TSUGUHARU FOUJITA | Nature morte aux anémones

600,000 - 1,000,000 HKD
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  • Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita
  • Nature morte aux anémones
  • signed in Japanese and English
  • oil on canvas
  • 33 by 24 cm; 13 by 9 ½ in.
executed circa 1918


Christie's, Amsterdam, 26 May 1993, Lot 280
Important Private European Collection


Sylvie & Dominique Buisson, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita Vol. II, ACR Edition, Paris, 2001, plate 18.131, p. 174


The work is overall in good and its original condition. Hairline craquelures are found at the lower left corner of the work. There is no sign of restoration under UV light examination.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita’s art has an aspect of the magical. His work blooms like the enchanting flowers of Japanese fairytales that mesmerize young children. But the lines outlining his silhouettes carry a sort of fantastical sensitivity and steadiness.”
André Warnod 

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita arrived in Paris in 1913, at a time when artists from around the world were congregated in the city, their different cultures creating an exciting synergy in vibrant Paris. The Paris School did not belong to a particular art movement. Rather, artists assembled together, carrying with them their own individual styles. And it was Foujita who contributed to this school the possibilities in the boundlessness of Eastern colour. Newly arrived in Paris, Foujita was primarily working with watercolour. In 1917, the Galerie Chéron on La Bóetie held a solo exhibition for the artist, featuring seventeen of his watercolour paintings. Picasso, who was living in Montparnasse at the time, was drawn in by Foujita’s watercolours, and lingered at the exhibit, undoubtedly showing both appreciation and approval of Foujita’s work. It was not until Foujita visited Renoir in southern France in 1918, that he began regularly experimenting with oil colour, attempting to express the elegant quality of Eastern painting in the new medium, and to invoke the aesthetic lines of watercolour while using oils. The next year, Foujita submitted six oil paintings, all of which were selected for the Salon d’Automne, where they were exhibited alongside the works of Matisse and Bonnard. Foujita immediately rose to fame. Nature morte aux anemones (Lot 1009) was created during this period, and is regarded as the artist’s earliest oil painting of vased flowers.

The anemones depicted in Nature morte aux anemones were a type of flower originally introduced to Japan from China. Later, the Japanese cultivated the flower in large volumes, and when it was introduced to Europe in 1844, it became known as the “Japanese Autumn Peony.” The Impressionists, who enjoyed using Japanese subjects in their works, often included the anemone in their still life paintings. Using the Western medium of oil colour to depict the Japanese Fall Peony, Foujita was enacting a gesture that suggested not only his yearning for the motherland, but his arrival at a perfect union between East and West.

Although Nature morte aux anemones is an oil painting, Foujita has rendered it with the saturating quality of watercolour. The effect of light is graceful, and the flowers are depicted with beautiful lines. This piece conjures Matisse’s undulating and winding lines, and rich and primitive vitality. When comparing the two artists’ styles in depicting the same type of flower, however, Foujita’s Eastern aura is brought into even sharper relief. The lines silhouetting the objects in Nature morte aux anemones are full of natural tension, while the enchanting and freely winding branches nevertheless carry the rigour of Japanese lines. The Eastern concept of “leaving blank” has also been brought into this Western oil painting. And the contrast of black and white clearly delineate the space between light and dark, with an aura of Eastern mystery blossoming amid the serene and elegant atmosphere. Nature morte aux anemones is one of Foujita’s rare paintings featuring still life flowers. Foujita aficionados must not pass up this opportunity on acquiring this piece for their collection.