Portrait de jeune fille (Paulette Jourdain) exemplifies the extraordinary talents of Chaim Soutine, one of the most innovative portraitists of the early twentieth century. Rather than seeking glamorous models of high social status, Soutine instead turned to everyday people as a source of inspiration for his most successful works. In his wildly expressive and eccentric depictions of these figures, Soutine is able to transform the appearance of his models from the commonplace to the truly outstanding. Soutine painted this portrait with great care, using an unusual shade of deep blue to softly surround the dark hair of his subject.
The present work was once in the famous collection of Marcellin and Madeleine Castaing. In 1925, the Castaings acquired their first Soutine from the dealer Léopold Zborowski. A subsequent visit to the artist’s studio heralded a lifelong friendship and association. Over time, the couple became Soutine's leading patrons, assembling a collection of over forty paintings that included many of the artist's finest. In 1928, Soutine painted the celebrated portrait of Madeleine Castaing (see fig. 3), now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. As their friendship flourished, he spent each summer between 1930 and 1935 at the family’s country house in Lèves, near Chartres. Madeleine Castaing (1894-1992) was one of the leading interior decorators of post-war Paris. Her boutique at the corner of the rue Bonaparte and the rue Jacob displayed her unique taste, often transforming Empire and Russian furniture through her own choice of modern fabrics.
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