Paul Guillaume, Paris
Arpad Plesch, Beaulieu-sur-Mer (by 1959 and sold: Christie's, London, December 4, 1973, lot 79)
S. Wajntrob, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Establissement Finindus (sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, October 22, 1980, lot 67)
Guardsmark, Inc., Memphis (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 10, 1989, lot 359)
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
New York, Valentine Gallery, Soutine, 1936, no. 6
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 34
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte; Tübingen, Kunsthalle; London, Hayward Gallery; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, Chaïm Soutine, 1893-1943, 1981-82, no. 9
Musée de Chartres, Soutine, 1989, no. 13
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Les Peintres de Zborowski: Modigliani, Utrillo, Soutine et leurs Amis, 1994, no. 31
Céret, Musée d'Art Moderne, Soutine à Céret, 1919-1922, 2000, no. 97
A. H. Sayre, Art News, New York, February 8, 1936, illustrated p. 7
Pierre Cabanne, Arts, Paris, June 24-30, 1959, discussed p. 16
G. Talphir, Gazith, August-September 1959, illustrated p. 92
P. Stone, Art and Artists, April 1970, illustrated p. 56
Waldemar George, Soutine, Paris, 1959, illustrated
"Dans le monde des arts: Soutine, du temps qu'il vivait à Céret...," L'Indépendant, Céret, September 1965, illustrated
Pierre Courthion, Soutine, peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, illustrated p. 262
Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943), Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, Cologne, 1993, no. 26, illustrated p. 559
Painted at Céret circa 1919, the young woman portrayed in Femme en rouge appuyée à un fauteuil stands formally beside a chair as if she is about to have her portrait painted by a society portrait painter. Barely contained within the rectangle of the canvas, her head grazes the top edge and her sturdy legs clad in black stockings are aligned with the bottom edge of the canvas. Static as the pose is, however, a strong force seems to pulling both chair and figure to the right. In a celebrated portrait painted thirty years earlier, Hélène Rouart (Madame Marin), Degas had painted the daughter of his friend and patron, firmly situated both in space by the massive chair occupying the foreground of the canvas and in social position by the evidence of Egyptian sculptures and paintings from her father’s collection in the background of the painting (see fig.1). Here, in contrast, there is a lack of specificity that is compensated for by the forcefulness of the rhythms that engulf the composition and succulence of the matière.
Soutine had arrived in Paris from Vilna in 1913 and in six frenetic years had managed to become an integral part of the brilliant circle of artists who had chosen to move to Paris from all over Europe. His neighbors at “La Ruche”, the artist’s colony in Montparnasse, included Chagall, Zadkine, Kisling, Laurens and Archipenko but it was Modigliani to whom he became closest after the two artists were introduced by Jacques Lipchitz in 1915. As Lipchitz recalled, “During the First World War I introduced Soutine to Modigliani, who immediately recognized what a good painter Soutine was. When Modigliani was dying he told his dealer, Zborowski, a Polish poet that he was going away but that he was leaving him a man of genius, Soutine” (Jacques Lipchitz, My Life in Sculpture, London, 1972, p. 8).
As important as the stimulus of his contemporaries, however, were the long hours Soutine spent in the Louvre admiring artists as diverse as Fouquet, Tintoretto, El Greco, Raphael, Goya, Ingres, Courbet and Rembrandt. More than any of his contemporaries, Soutine was in awe of the mysteries of paint itself and its ability to convey spiritual truths. It was in Céret that he achieved the major stylistic breakthrough in an extraordinary sequence of landscapes and portraits that he never surpassed. Away from the urban environment of Paris, with its museums and cafes, he was able to immerse himself in the act of painting, whether the subject was a nearby landscape or an anonymous model.
Painting a portrait, however, was a different experience from painting a landscape. Landscapes generally only required one intense working session whereas portraits often required repeated sittings. In the Céret landscapes the delirious brushwork stretched the conventions of landscape painting to breaking point (see fig. 2), whereas in the portraits there is a stronger adherence to the great tradition of western portraiture and a greater sense of control. There are indeed distortions but as Willem de Kooning commented “Soutine distorted the pictures but not the people… If you would speak of distortions: for some mysterious reason he never distorted the people. Only the painting. You can somehow see the people… you know everything about the bellboy… The painting is the painting, but he never destroyed the people” (Willem de Kooning quoted in Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow, The Impact of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): de Kooning, Pollock, Dubuffet, Bacon, Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, 2002, p.102).
Fig.1, Edgar Degas, Hélène Rouart (Mme. Marin), 1886, oil on canvas, National Gallery, London
Fig. 2, Chaim Soutine, La colline de Céret, circa 1921, oil on canvas, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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