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We see a woman of quiet bearing dressed in black. Despite the heaviness of the colors, her face and hand, as well as the contrast between the right and left eys, are rendered with a light touch.

Recommended by Kuroda Seiki, Fujishima Takeji had been working as associate professor in the course of Western painting at the Tokyo Fine Arts School, when in 1905, at the age of 38, he left for France and Italy as a Minisrty of Education study-abroad student. He ultimately spent four years in Europe. This work was painted during the last half of his stay, that is, during the approximately two years he studied in Italy. Fujishima studied under Carlos Duran, who was known at the same time in Rome as a master-portraitist, and learned academic oil painting techniques from him. This is evident in this work as well. No doubt Fujishima spent a great deal of time completing it, for he has given careful attention to every conceivable aspect like the relationship between the model and background, the changes in value between the light and dark areas, and the contrasting rendering of the hand and face, and has brought these together into a balanced whole. Fujishima had a flexible attitude toward the study of painting, and we can see him here restraining his tendency toward decorative painting, which he had been striving for, and trying to be absolutely faithful to the fundamentals. After passing through this stage, Fujishima’s female portraits acquired a decorativeness and romantic flavor, as he progressed toward the establishment of his own unique style. (Writer : Naomi Sakonju Source : Selected Masterpieces from The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music: Grand Opening Exhibition, The University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, 1999)

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