The Fiancée

La Fiancée

This portrait was probably painted in Cagnes, in the south of France, as were many other portraits of women rendered in the same curvilinear brushwork. The title of the painting does not relate to any known anecdote, and the model has not been identified. The vertical format perfectly encloses this thin figure with her elongated face, standing out from a green and brown background. Soutine’s handling of the white dress recalls the technique he used for the tunics of his little pastry cooks: the white is spattered with long brushstrokes of green, blue and yellow, making the folds of the garment appear to move, and rendering it almost iridescent. The flesh is depicted with long strokes of colour, ranging from pink to red, that highlight the structure of her hands and certain areas of her face, in a very striking way. Chaïm Soutine is using this portrait of the young woman to experiment with a style of painting that recomposes the real world through his own emotions, and reveals a stunning Expressionist boldness.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter