Chaïm Soutine

Heritage Images © Roger-Viollet / DR
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Born in Smilovitchi in the province of Minsk (present-day Belarus), Chaïm Soutine was one of the School of Paris’ most eminent representatives. He arrived in Paris in 1912 and stayed at the La Ruche artists’ residence for a while before moving to Cité Falguière, where the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz introduced him to Amedeo Modigliani. He also travelled in the south of France in the early 1920s, bringing back a selection of tempestuous landscapes (Les Maisons (The Houses), Paysage (Landscape), Arbre couché (Fallen Tree) and Le Village (The Village)).
His style remained much the same over the course of time, not far away from expressionism, one of his characteristics being his fondness for working in series. Turn and turn about, he depicted gladioli, game, poultry, service people and choirboys. The personages he depicted are melancholic, typified to the point of caricature, endowed with deformed bodies and wearing clothes providing lively color contrasts (Le Petit Pâtissier (The Little Pastry Cook), Garçon d’honneur (Best Man)). His still lifes focus on animals that have been killed (Le Dindon (The Turkey), Nature morte au faisan (Still Life with Pheasant) and skinned carcasses, following Rembrandt’s example (Bœuf et tête de veau (Side of Beef and Calf’s Head)).
The art dealer Paul Guillaume was one of the first to take an interest in Soutine’s paintings. It was through him that the American collector Alfred C. Barnes discovered Soutine in his turn, so bringing him international recognition. Paul Guillaume’s early taste for the artist has resulted in the Orangerie housing the largest collection of Soutine’s paintings in Europe.

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