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“I became a man in Japan, and I became a painter in France.”

Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886 – 1968)

Leonard Tsuguaru Foujita was born in Tokyo to an aristocratic family, descended from the master samurai. His talent was realised at an early age and, by the time he finished his study at the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo he was already a successful artist. So much so in fact that the Japanese emperor purchased one of his paintings, and during a trip to Korea in 1911 he was asked to paint a portrait of King. In 1912, Foujita was going to London, where he met with European art, and in 1913 moved to Paris the capital of world culture. He arrived knowing nobody, but he soon became friends with Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger. He eventually made enough money to install a bathtub with hot running water. Foujita became one of the most prominent artists to graduate from the Paris School during its heyday, where he applied Japanese ink techniques to

In 1912, Foujita was going to London, where he met with European art, and in 1913 moved to Paris the capital of world culture. He arrived knowing nobody, but soon became friends with Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger. Eventually, he made enough money to install a bathtub with hot running water. Foujita became one of the most prominent artists to graduate from the Paris School during its heyday, where he applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings. Successful in life, he still remains very popular with specialist art collectors. He is one of the few Montparnasse artists who made a great deal of money in his early years.  Some researchers believe that his hugely successful initial solo exhibition in 1918 was the beginning of the Golden Age of Montparnasse. He was one of the more eccentric artists of the time in Paris. His hair was cut in the style of an Egyptian statue; he wore earrings, dressed in tunics and had a tattoo

He is one of the few Montparnasse artists who made a great deal of money in his early years. Some researchers believe that his hugely successful initial solo exhibition in 1918 was the beginning of the Golden Age of Montparnasse. He was one of the more eccentric artists of the time in Paris. His hair was cut in the style of an Egyptian statue; he wore earrings, dressed in tunics and had a tattoo around his wrist. It is rumoured that he would occasionally wear a lampshade as a hat.

During World War Foujita lived as a martial artist in Japan, but in 1950 he returned to France, where he continued to paint nudes, and portraits of cats. In 1955, Foujita became a French citizen and in 1959 converted to the Catholic Church. At his baptism he took René Lalou (the head of the Mumm champagne house) as his godfather and Françoise Taittinger as his godmother. During this period his work took on a religious theme. Foujita died of cancer in Zurich in In 1968.

The most expensive painting in 2012 was the “daughter of the artist”. The painting was sold June 20 at Sotheby’s for £337,250, the highest price of the year among graphic works Foujita.