Portrait of a Man (Emile Lejeune)

Portrait d’homme (Émile Lejeune)

A long, thin, asymmetric face, with the bridge of the nose and the ears emphasised by a thin red line, occupies the upper part of the painting, whereas the bust is cropped just below the shoulders. This is a portrait of Emile Lejeune (1885-1964), a painter from Geneva who had moved to Paris, and in whose studio at 6 rue Huyghens, in Montparnasse, a range of artistic events were held (concerts by the group known as Les Six, exhibitions, including an exhibition of African art organised by Paul Guillaume, and poetry readings, particularly by Apollinaire and Cocteau). After visiting Provence, Emile Lejeune finally decided, in 1922, to move to Cagnes with his family. Both Soutine’s portraits of Lejeune date from this period, either before Lejeune left Paris, or just after he had moved. In the portrait in the Musée de l’Orangerie, the neck is disproportionately elongated above the knot of his tie, the mouth is reduced to a simple red line, and the moustache is indicated by two brown marks. The other portrait presents the same distortions of face and body, but in that version the model is wearing glasses and a bow tie.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter