The masterpiece of the year in Gerpinnes

The masterpiece of the year in Gerpinnes

It’s not every day that the Belgian art market allows you to see works of such quality. Foujita (1886-1968) was a star trader in modern paintings around the world. He deployed a refined, linear, poetic style, derived from Japanese calligraphy to which he is indebted through his blood, his religious spirit which will experience great upheaval and his mentality. Note that he had already dealt with Catholic subjects as early as 1915, with a canvas depicting Christ on the cross, half-length. It had been sold at Maigret in Paris in 2007 and then made €17,500.

But the artist also became a convinced European, modernist and eminent member of the School of Paris, alongside Fernand Léger, Pascin, Modigliani, Juan Gris, Picasso and Matisse, to name but a few. He will convert to Catholicism at the end of 1959 and will create a decor in Reims in a brand new chapel where he will be buried. His godfathers in religion were René Lalou, owner of Mumm champagnes, and Béatrice Taittinger.

The lot presented at Soudant, in Gerpinnes, won against competition from Sotheby’s, is significant of Foujita’s art for its distinction, its economy of means, its simple and obvious grace. We are in 1923, the best period without doubt. It is a line art, an oil drawing in a way. The canvas measures 41 x 39 cm, which is not very large.

The rating is rising

It is, however, rare, and in the past 20 years, there have only been six other self-portraits sold at public auction. We will remember the so-called “cat” one, offered by Bukovski in April 2009, which cost €93,160, which is the low estimate. Then the most recent, which was sold at Philipps in November 2021 and fetched €476,145. A third painting of the same subject dates from 1958. It is an oil on a hardboard panel, very small since it measures only 17.5 x 13 cm. The artist is like here from the front but the atmosphere is heavier and the style less illuminated from the inside. The panel sold for €160,041 at Mainichi, Tokyo, in July 2018. Another very small one (18 x 14 cm) also sold at iArt Co in Tokyo again in March 2018 for €146,129; but like the previous one, it was late and dated from 1957. Finally, in 2013, an oil of 35 x 24 cm, placed at Lempertz in Cologne and dating from 1926, had not been sold for €100,000. It is interesting to note that the rating has risen sharply in twenty years. The painting by Soudant comes from a Belgian private collection and was acquired directly from the artist in 1923, by Lucien Biot. The fee will be 25% plus resale rights. The lot is announced between 200,000 and 300,000 €. We will come back to the rest of the sale later.

Public sale Where 60, rue de Bertransart in 6280 Gerpinnes, When Sunday June 26 from 1 p.m.

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