James N. Rosenberg, New York (until October 1958)
M. Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York (acquired in October 1958 and until 1963)
Willavene S. Morris, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (acquired in 1963. Sold by her estate: Sotheby's, New York, 13th May 1986, lot 19)
Galerie Tamenaga, Paris (purchased at the above sale)
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1980s
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Mrs. Herbert C. Morris Collection, 1965
Pierre Courthion, Soutine. Peintre du déchirant, Geneva, 1972, fig. B, illustrated p. 198 (titled Paysage de Céret (arbre à gauche, maisons à droite and as dating from 1919-20)
Maurice Tuchman, Esti Dunow & Klaus Perls, Chaïm Soutine. Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. I, no. 52, illustrated in colour p. 165
Soutine. Céret 1919-1922 (exhibition catalogue), Musée d'Art Moderne de Céret, Céret, 2000, illustrated in colour p. 243 (titled La rue Maillol à Céret)
Esti Dunow in Soutine, Céret 1919-1922 (exhibition catalogue), Musée d’Art Moderne de Céret, 2000, p. 16
Soutine lived in Céret, in the Eastern Pyrenees, from 1919 until 1922, painting a number of landscapes and townscapes of the region. In moving to Céret – on the advice of his dealer Léopold Zborowski – Soutine followed in the footsteps of many artists before him including Picasso, Gris and Chagall. Like his predecessors, Soutine was seduced by the natural beauty and quality of light of the Mediterranean coast, and immersed himself in the town and its surroundings more fully than any of his fellow painters. He was enthralled by the picturesque hill towns nestled along France’s southern coast, and his canvases of Céret, Cagnes and Vence are among the most expressive and imaginatively charged landscapes of his career.
Depicting a street with narrow buildings on one side and lush trees on the other and combining the natural with the man-made in a manner reminiscent of Cézanne (fig. 1), the present work was throughout most of its history known under the title L’entrée du village. In 2000 it featured in the catalogue of the important exhibition Soutine. Céret 1919-1922; Esti Dunow wrote in the exhibition catalogue: ‘The paintings of and at Céret – the landscapes whose sites we can identify, the portraits of known sitters we can recognize – are images grounded in specificity and the particularity of detail, the results of careful observation and attention to visual reality. We can recognize a house or tree from present-day Céret in a Soutine painting’ (E. Dunow in Soutine. Céret 1919-1922 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 18). Indeed many of the exact locations of Soutine’s works were identified for this exhibition, and as a result the present work, alongside another, horizontal depiction of the same location, was presented as La rue Maillol à Céret.
During his years in Céret Soutine used to paint en plein air, working directly from life and rendering his motifs with a sense of immediacy and spontaneous energy. The present oil displays a wonderfully rhythmic and expressive quality which Soutine developed during this period. It was in Céret, at the age of 26, that he reached artistic maturity and formulated the pictorial style and expressive force that was to drive his art throughout his career. Esti Dunow observed: ‘The Céret landscapes are alive and fluid, changing and generating sensations as we look. They vibrate with movement, and appear unstable, largely as a result of Soutine’s avoidance of pure horizontals or verticals. The rock and tilt of the houses on their foundations, the shift of the trees, and the slipperiness of the ground are made literal by this device. […] Maurice Sachs wrote of the Céret works in his 1934 article in La Nouvelle Revue française: “Houses took off from the ground, trees seem to fly”’ (ibid., p. 24).
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