- Chaïm Soutine
- L'HOMME AU FOULARD ROUGE
- signed Soutine (upper left)
- oil on canvas
- 100 by 70cm.
- 39 3/8 by 27 1/2 in.
Dr. Jacques Soubiès, Paris (sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Collection de feu le Docteur Jacques Soubiès, 13th December 1940, lot 81)
Lucien & Marcelle Bourdon, Paris (acquired circa 1947-50. Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Collection de Madame Bourdon, 5th March 1990, lot 42)
Private Collection, France (acquired at the above sale)
Sale: Christie's, London, 9th December 1997, lot 21
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Paris, Galerie de France, Le Cabinet d'un amateur d'aujourd'hui, II (1918-1938), 1949, no. 34, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent portraits d'hommes du XIVe siècle à nos jours, 1952, possibly no. 87
Brussels, Exposition universelle, 1958
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 50, illustrated in the catalogue (titled L'Homme à la cravate rouge and as dating from 1924)
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Chaïm Soutine, 1973, no. 40, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Louisville, Kentucky, The Speed Art Museum, Corot to Picasso: French Paintings and Drawings at the Speed Art Museum, 2002-03
Gabriel Talphir, 'Chaïm Soutine', in Gazith, Art and Literary Journal, Tel Aviv, August-September 1959, illustrated pl. 10
Henri Serouya, Soutine, Paris, 1967, illustrated
Pierre Courthion, Soutine. Peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, fig. H, illustrated p. 235 (as dating from 1924)
Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaïm Soutine, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. II, no. 47, illustrated in colour p. 587
Soutine: Céret 1919-1922 (exhibition catalogue), Musée d'Art Moderne, Céret, 2000, illustrated in colour p. 409
L'Homme au foulard rouge epitomises Soutine's mature style, with its great expressiveness of pose, rhythmically charged brushstroke and intense, Fauve-like colours. Regardless of the age or social status of the sitters, or the artist's personal involvement with them, Soutine's portraits are imbued with a strong physical presence, as well as with a uniqueness and individuality of his subjects. Although the physical distortions and exaggerations are often a reflection of the painter's own emotional states and anxieties, they never stand in the way of showing the character of the portrayed person. As the authors of the Catalogue raisonné of Soutine's work have commented: 'While his portraits do convey inner realities and make spiritual statements, they are primarily rooted in concrete perception. Though Soutine may project his inner turbulence and most personal feelings onto his subjects, the viewer never loses sight of a particular physical entity being carefully observed and experienced. Even the distortions and exaggerations of facial features and the shiftings and dislocations of body parts do not destroy the essential recognition in each painting of a certain person and a reality specific to him or her' (M. Tuchman, E. Dunow & K. Perls, op. cit., p. 509).
Whilst Soutine occasionally painted portraits of his friends, his fellow artists, patrons, and several self-portraits, he usually preferred to depict anonymous sitters, as in the present work. 'Soutine generally chose anonymous figures as models. But as much as his characters may become types, they never give up their identities as particular people. Soutine's insistence on the physical particularity of his subject, together with this move towards more anonymous sitters, demonstrates his resistance to completely losing himself in the subjective aspects of the portrait experience. This resistance to a complete union between painter and model is also felt in the way Soutine’s figures ''pose'' before him and us, open to our penetrating scrutiny, but somehow indifferent to the artist's presence [...] It is the tension between their seeming detachment, on the one hand, and an awareness of Soutine's personal involvement with them, on the other, that heightens the expressive charge of these figures' (ibid., pp. 509-510).
Although Soutine painted a wide range of sitters throughout his career, the formal arrangements of these portraits remained consistent: he often chose long and narrow canvases, filling them with seated, occasionally standing figures, in half-length or three-quarter-length pose. These often frontally-facing figures, usually depicted in formal dress, create a sense of posing, rather than a spontaneously captured likeness. L'Homme au foulard rouge is no exception: the anonymous sitter is depicted frontally, his white shirt, dark jacket and red scarf giving him a formal, if somewhat bohemian, look. Soutine's usual mannerisms and facial features are also present: the sitter's large hands placed on his lap often dominate the foreground of his portraits. Another recurring feature is the elongated shape of the head, often with a long protruding nose. The background, painted in warm hues, is bare and, apart from describing an interior setting, does not offer any clues to the identity of the sitter or the surroundings in which he is depicted. This deliberate lack of detail takes the viewer's focus away from the potential narrative of the painting, and centers our attention on the pure monumentality of the picture, and the physical and emotional power of the portrait. The energy and expressive force of L'Homme au foulard rouge is evocative of the angst-ridden self-portraits of Van Gogh, as well as of his depictions of characters the artist encountered in everyday life.