Lot 44
  • 44

Chaïm Soutine

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Chaïm Soutine
  • La Vieille dame au chien
  • Oil on canvas


Private Collection, England (and sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 30, 1938, lot 30)

Mardelet Collection, Paris (acquired by 1945)

Mr. & Mrs. Oscar Miestchaninoff, Paris & New York

Pierre Wertheimer, Lausanne

Galerie Hervé Odermatt, Paris

Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, (acquired circa 1970)

Private Collection, New York

Acquavella Galleries, New York (acquired by 1973)

Galerie Hervé Odermatt, Paris (acquired from the above in 1973)

Private Collection, Japan (and sold: Sotheby's New York, November 11, 1987, lot 62)

Acquired at the above sale


Tokyo, Odakyu Museum; Nara, Nara Sogo Museum; Ibaraki, Kasam Nichido Musem & Hokkaido, Hokkaido Museum of Art, Chaïm Soutine Centenary Exhibition, 1992-93, no. 17, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1996, n.n, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Raymond Cogniat, Soutine, Paris, 1945, no. 29, illustrated n.p. (dated 1927)

Pierre Courthion, Soutine: Peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, illustrated p. 264

Maurice Tuchman, Este Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaim Soutine: Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. II, no. 29, illustrated in color p. 563

IFAR Journal, vol. 10, no. 3/4, 2008/09, illustrated p. 57 

Catalogue Note

La Vieille dame au chien is a vigorous example of Chaïm Soutine’s portraiture. Painted circa 1919, the composition is dominated by an anonymous sitter, attired in a rich and sumptuous black, with a small dog in her lap and sporting a hat adorned with a red blossom, who contrasts sharply against the background of deep blues and lyrical greens. “The singular approach to portraiture which is present as early as 1916…remains typical of Soutine throughout his life; basically it is the distinctive manner in which the figure is placed in the picture field. Subjects are set into their pictorial space with a certain clumsy rigor. They are centrally and frontally positioned… Soutine’s figures face you and command your attention. Yet they are apparently indifferent to the presence of the artist. While Soutine ‘projected’ himself into his portraits, there is still much individual characterisation in these works….At first glance, Soutine’s models are seemingly free in their life space, but they are flattened and distorted, spread out and hung up. Their flesh has metamorphosed into purely coloured paste, its viscous surface often of the same textural consistency as the background or surrounding space. All is flesh, all as if flesh were grafted onto flesh” (C. Soutine, 1893-1943 (exhibition catalogue), Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschicht, Munster; Kunsthalle Tubingen, Tubingen; Hayward Gallery, London & Kunstmuseum Luzerne, Lucerne, 1981-82 p. 60).

It was around the time this work was painted that Soutine left Paris for a long stay in Ceret. The preceding years he had spent in the French capital, immersed in the world of La Ruche and its residents; he arrived in Paris in July of 1912 and soon took up residence in this artists’ colony. Monroe Wheeler writes of the group of artists with whom Soutine mixed in Paris in the late 1910s, and of his character as an artist: "Soutine, Pascin, Utrillo and Modigliani - they have been grouped together as though violence of temper and proneness to trouble constituted a school of art. In France they are called Les peintres maudits - painters under a curse... Soutine was the least calamitous and least dissipated of the four, but perhaps the saddest. For as his art developed, it offered no distraction from his anxieties, animosities and self-reproach - no escape. Not that he intended any effect of autobiography by means of his art. But from an early age he used his hardship, pessimism and truculence to set a tragic tone for his painting, irrespective of its subject matter. Limiting the themes of his work to conventional categories - still life, landscape, portraiture and picturesque figure-painting - he would always charge his pictures with extreme implications of what he had in mind: violence of nature, universality of hunger, and a peculiar mingling of enthusiasm and antipathies" (M. Wheeler, Chaïm Soutine, New York, The Museum of Modern Art (exhibition catalogue), 1950, p. 31).