Houses was painted in Céret (Pyrénées-Orientales), where the painter was virtually forced to live from 1919 to 1922. In fact, Léopold Zborowski (1889-1932), Soutine’s art dealer, had sent him to this village, covering his expenses for food and lodgings in return for the canvases Soutine would send back. This painting is of the houses in the Rue de la République seen from the Ravin des Tins.
Soutine has excessively elongated the houses, which take over all the space in the painting and obscure the sky. The sky, in a chalky grey tone similar to the colour of the facades of the houses, is almost absent. The ravine, in this version, features only marginally at the bottom of the painting. The houses twist and undulate in a hallucinatory vision, reflecting the painter’s inner turmoil.
Painted in a range of browns, greys and greens, and in tones that are much more muted than the majority of the paintings from this period in Céret, this landscape is reminiscent of Egon Schiele’s (1890-1918) landscapes. Its distortions are close in style to the German Expressionism of Die Brücke.
Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter