Lot  232 Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei

Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei


Léonard Tsuguharu FOUJITA (Japanese-French, 1886 - 1968)

c 1918

Gouache , watercolor, ink, gold leaf on paper

35.5 x 46.8 cm


TWD 6,500,000-8,500,000

HKD 1,613,000-2,109,000

USD 205,600-268,800

CNY 1,457,000-1,906,000

Sold Price

TWD 7,200,000

HKD 1,832,061

USD 235,371

CNY 1,655,172


Signed lower left Tsuguharu in Kanjiand T. Foujita in English
Signed on the reserve Tsuguharu Foujita in Kanjiand T. Foujita in English and inscribed in Paris in Kanji

Schaeffer Gallery,New York
The estate of Cornelia and Michael Bessie,Connecticut
This lot is to be sold by a certificate of authenticity issued by Sylvie Buisson and will be included in the artist's forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné prepared by Sylvie Buisson, Leonard-Tsuguharu Foujita IV (No.D18.172A)


Orientalism in Paris: The Art of Foujita

de Paris, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita was regarded as one of the top artists of the 20th century, and the most successful one in 1920. After relocating to Paris in 1913, he was surrounded by artists from all parts of the world, and was living in the melting pot of culture. After the first world war, Foujita introduced the beauty of oriental art to the Ecole de Paris. He led a life of destitute in Montparnasse until 1917 when he had his first solo exhibition at the Chéron Gallery with 17 aquarelle paintings. His works captured the eyes of Pablo Picasso. This shows Picasso's signs of appreciation towards the artist. In 1918, he visited Renoir and started incorporating oriental aesthetics into western art. The following year, all of his works were exhibited in the Salon d'Automne alongside, his fame continued to rise since then. Chats, offered in this sale, is a work from the period and is one of the first paintings of cats finished with gold leaf. Gold leaves were scarce after the war and would only be applied to the most important paintings of the artist. A Seated Woman, collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, and Portrait de Suzy Solidor highlighted the significance of the two cats towards the artist.

Sensual Beauty of Laziness

Apart from women, cats are a prominent subject matter to Foujita. Cats and women captured the eyes and brush of Foujita throughout his artistic career. This work, Chats, was set in a background with gold leaf, composed with a Japanese landscape. Two cats were completed by incorporating western techniques to an oriental setting. A fine brush was used to depict the delicate hair of the cats, which was regarded as the finest way of expressing the beauty of the animal. Koneko, the cat on the left, symbolizes sensual beauty; while Kiki on the right represents graceful laziness. Expressed in his journal more than once, Foujita regarded cats with similar qualities as women, especially the confidence and beauty of laziness.

Women as a symbol of beauty is prevalent in the Western ideology. Their beauty is depicted through laziness with sensual delicate figures. Using cats as a representation of women could be deciphered as the expression of sensitivity and laziness in Western art. The landscape setting represents the pursuit of oriental art, thus forming an incorporation of Western and Eastern techniques of art. These two cats were one of Foujita's earliest companions through his destitute life as an artist of the East when he first came to Paris. After his success at the exhibition in 1917, Foujita started using gold leaf, experimented on this work in 1918. The composition of Koneko and Kiki shows their significance to the artist. Several pictures were taken of Koneko, followed by numerous prints of the cat, until 1929 when the cats passed away, they never appeared in Foujita's works ever again.
Related Info

Modern & Contemporary Art

Ravenel Autumn Auction 2022 Taipei

Sunday, December 4, 2022, 2:00pm