Lot 337
  • 337

Chaïm Soutine

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Chaïm Soutine
  • Le Grand faisan
  • signed Soutine (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 27.7 by 100.3cm., 10 7/8 by 39 1/2 in.


Paul Guillaume, Paris
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (until 1928)
Dr Jacques Soubiès, Paris (from 1928; sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 13th December 1940, lot 86)
Dr Lucien Kléman, Paris
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008


Paris, Galerie de France, Rétrospective Soutine, 1894-1943, 1945, no. 13
Paris, Maison de la Pensée Française, Soutine, 1894-1943, 1956, no. 14
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent Tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 47
Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, Chaïm Soutine, 1893-1943, 1968, no. 68, illustrated in the catalogue
New York, Cheim & Read, The New Landscape / The New Still Life:  Soutine and Modern Art, 2006, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Munich, Galerie Thomas, Chaïm Soutine: The Passion of Painting, 2009, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Pierre Courthion, Soutine, Peintre du Déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, figure D, illustrated p. 250
Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943), Catalogue raisonné, Werkverzeichnis, Cologne, 1993, vol. I, no. 113, illustrated p. 491


The canvas is lined. UV examination reveals an irregular line of retouching along the upper edge, and some further retouching along the lower edge and lower part of the right edge. There is some old varnish which fluoresces in places, predominantly to the lower right corner. There is a small area of paint shrinkage to the lower centre of the composition and a diagonal scuff to the varnish of the white pigment to the right half of the canvas. This work is in overall good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Painted during a period of fervent artistic output circa 1927-29, Le Grand faisan, forms part of Chaïm Soutine’s celebrated series portraying pheasants. This was a subject which fascinated the artist due to the bird’s multicoloured and brilliant plumage which Soutine sought to convey with his inimitable style, grasp of vibrant colour and understanding of form. Moving to a farmhouse near the small town of Le Blanc in the mid-1920s, situated on the river Creuse in central France, provided the impetus Soutine needed to renew his artistic production and provide fresh material for his art. The art dealer Léopold Zborowski rented the farmhouse for his artists, and Soutine spent several summers there with the Zborowskis' assistant Paulette Jourdain and their cook Amélie; Zborowski and his wife Anna also often came to visit. Billy Klüver and Julie Martin have discussed the inspiration behind Soutine’s painting of pheasants and birds: ‘They lived in the two-story farmhouse, whose ground level, as was common, was a barnlike space with a dirt floor. The farmers kept their animals in part of the space, and despite the smell, Soutine painted in another part of the space. Paulette would walk to the neighbouring farms to select birds for Soutine to paint’ (Billy Klüver and Julie Martin, 'Chaim Soutine: An Illustrated Biography', in An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaim Soutine (exhibition catalogue), The Jewish Museum, New York, 1998, p. 104).

Within the present work, Soutine’s instinctive, visceral painting style imbues the scene of the pheasant laid down on a white sheet with a sinuous movement and energy. The rapidly dashed brush marks contrast with the stillness of the bird, laid down across the whole surface of the painting as the central subject of the composition. Soutine successfully conveys an atmosphere that is simultaneously an authentic evocation of silence with an intimate vision of a psychological state, whilst the dead bird evokes the macabre spectacle of death and beauty.