- Chaïm Soutine
- La vieille dame assise
- Signed C. Soutine (lower right)
- Oil on canvas
- 32 1/4 by 22 in.
- 82 by 56 cm
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York
Donald S. Stralem, New York (acquired from the above in 1959)
Acquired from the Estate of the above circa 1995
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Soutine, 1968, no. 26
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Collector's Choice, 1976
New York, Gallery Bellman, Soutine: 1893-1943, 1983-4, no. 16
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990, on loan
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991, on loan
Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow, & Klaus Perls, Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): Catalogue Raisonné, Werkverzeichnis, vol. 2, Cologne, 1993, no. 72, illustrated p. 621
Soutine's pictures, known for their textural bravura and focus on the sensual beauty of unusual subjects, astounded his contemporaries. Whether portraits of the working class, depictions of local monuments, landscapes or dead animals, he was able to invest vernacular subjects with a raw beauty that set him apart from the rest of the avant-garde. In the late 1920s, the art historian Élie Faure wrote a monograph on Soutine's work, in which he extolled the artist for the passion behind his paintings and the quasi-religious fervor that he felt they expressed. Faure's analysis of these pictures, although grippingly poetic in its formal descriptions, met with much controversy and ultimately alienated the artist from that author. Although his interpretations of these pictures are debatable, Faure provided a description of the artist that captures accurately the intensity of his character. "If you saw him in the street," Faure wrote, "in the pouring rain, with his fugitive look, his hat pulled down over his eyes, his beautiful, small, pale hands, this Kalmouk's face with his straight hair covering his forehead, you would feel as if you were watching unfold the drama of the Magi pushing towards the star [of Bethlehem] in search of rest" (quoted in Norman L. Kleeblatt and Kenneth E. Silver, An Expressionist in Paris, The Paintings of Chaim Soutine (exhibition catalogue); The Jewish Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Cincinatti Art Museum, 1998-99, p. 34).
The first owner of this picture was the sculptor and collector Oscar Miestchaninoff, who posed for several famous portraits by Modigliani and Soutine.