View full screen - View 1 of Lot 22. LOUIS SOUTTER | AURORE BORÉALE.


Lot Closed

June 30, 01:25 PM GMT


150,000 - 200,000 CHF

Lot Details



1871 - 1942


Ink on paper

Titled upper left

43 x 57 cm (unframed); 74 x 87.5 cm (framed)

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Collection Magnin, Vufflens-la-Ville

J&P Fine Arts, Zurich, 2004

Private collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above by the family of the present owner)

Michel Thévoz, Louis Soutter, catalogue de l'oeuvre, Lausanne/Zurich, 1976, no 2659, p. 334, ill.

J&P Fine Arts, Louis Soutter, exhibition catalogue, Zurich, 2004, p. 15

After attending art schools in Geneva and Paris and teaching art in Colorado Springs in America, Soutter returned to his home town Morges and worked for several years as a violinist between Geneva and Lausanne. However, he was plagued by bouts of melancholy and by 1923, at the age of 52, he entered a hospice in Ballaigues, where he would spend the rest of his life. Here he returned to art, making numerous sketches with and pen and pencil in small notebooks. These early drawings made with intensely dense hatching were often inspired by literary themes (Victor Hugo and Shakespeare) or inspired by old master painters such as Giotto, Raphael or Rembrandt. His cousin Le Corbusier visited him in 1927 and, impressed by his work, arranged for him to have better materials. Indeed, when Soutter ran out of paper and ink material he often went to the local post-office to work. When, aged 66, Soutter started to suffer from arthritis in his hands, he began using his fingers instead of a pen or brush, dipping them directly in ink or paint. Rather than experiencing this as a restricting infirmity, he used this as an opportunity to radically reinvent his style.

Executed between 1937 and 1942 Aurore boréale is one the most representative of Soutter’s so called “finger paintings”. The frieze-like composition, reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings, shows a procession of figures moving across the picture plane. The figures are accompanied by a dog, a rare occurrence of an animal in Soutter’s oeuvre. The gesticulating black silhouettes with disproportional hands contrast strongly against the ivory coloured paper. Despite the simplicity of the technical means used, the work is charged with emotion. We are drawn into Soutter’s psychologically charged, dreamlike world.