Foujita's muse of muses inspires bidders at Bonhams Impressionist Sale in London

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Foujita's muse of muses inspires bidders at Bonhams Impressionist Sale in London
Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Nu Assis (Jacqueline Barsotti-Goddard). Oil on Canvas. 64.8 x 100.2cm (25 1/2 x 39 7/16in). Painted in Paris in 1929. Estimate: £800,000-1,200,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Nu Assis (Jacqueline Barsotti-Goddard), an important work by Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) depicting the famous artist’s model and muse Jacqueline Barsotti-Goddard,achieved an impressive £1,602,300 at Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art sale today (12 October) in New Bond Street, London. The work had a pre-sale estimate of £800,000-1,200,000.

The 69-lot sale made a total of £4,977,008 with 83% sold by lot and 97% sold by value.

The ultimate bohemian, Barsotti-Goddard, was a favourite of the Parisian art scene in the 1920s, sitting for Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti amongst many others. Frequently photographed by Man Ray, she was well-known throughout the wider circle of artists and muses, later writing a memoir recalling her experiences and offering some acerbic observations about the personalities that surrounded her. Foujita was especially drawn to her, and she was said to have been his favourite model.

Hannah Noel-Smith, Bonhams Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “Nu Assis (Jacqueline Barsotti-Goddard) was one of the largest works from Foujita’s Nude series to ever come to the market and had been in the same private collection since 1929. Depicting Jacqueline Barsotti-Goddard, the muse of muses, it is no wonder the work attracted the attention of collectors and achieved such an impressive price.”

Other highlights of the sale included:

• Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), La forêt. Sold for £1,122,300.

• Edgar Degas 1834-1917), Danseuse. Sold for £315,300.

• Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Trois roses. Sold for £138,900.

• Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Femme assise et gentilhomme. Sold for £126,300.

• Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Cybernetic Lobster Téléphone. Sold for £101,100.

Jacqueline Goddard, née Barsotti (1912-2003) was born on 13 November 1911, to a French mother and an Italian father. Her early childhood was spent in Paris, where her father worked as a sculptor. Though bright, she was a difficult child, and later stated that she felt rejected by her parents: “I replaced my rather disastrous family by the most brilliant personalities of the century.”

After spending time in Italy, a 17-year-old Jacqueline returned to Paris. She began frequenting La Coupole and other popular artist haunts around Montparnasse. She became a close friend of Man Ray and his former mistress Kiki de Montparnasse. She met artists such as Giacometti, Picasso, and Matisse, and writers including Georges Simenon – who used Jacqueline as a character in one of his novels, (and whom she notably disliked). She recalled once dancing with Somerset Maugham, who told her ‘she was the most beautiful woman he had ever known’.

To support herself financially, Jacqueline would sit for a portrait whenever one of her wealthy friends wanted to add a famous artist to their collection; she would then buy the picture and sell it on to her friend at a profit – but at a lower price than would have been charged by a gallery.

Foujita likely met Jacqueline at Le Coupole or the Dôme café. The pair became close friends. She would later write in her unpublished memoirs; “I became his favourite model… Going out with [Foujita] was quite an experience. He was like a jewellery shop window. Big earrings, an enormous watch to hide a tattoo, rings galore; his love of gold was manifest. He believed in being noticed at all costs.” She went on; “Foufou was very protective and fatherly to me. He taught me jujitsu to protect me from all sorts of attacks including rape. He would try to take me by surprise in false alarms. It must have been hilarious to see me calmly posing for a drawing [and then] suddenly jumping on guard.”

In 1949, Jacqueline left behind Paris permanently when she married her second husband, Ivor Goddard, a photographer on the Isle of Wight. It was there that she wrote her memoirs, reflecting with often cutting wit on the characters she met. She remained there until her death in 2003.

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