Chaïm Soutine (1894-1943)
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Chaïm Soutine (1894-1943)

La femme à l'ombrelle

Chaïm Soutine (1894-1943)
La femme à l'ombrelle
signed 'Soutine' (lower right)
oil on canvas
28¾ x 28¾ in. (73 x 73 cm.)
Painted circa 1936-1937
Gérard Magistry, Paris, by 1973.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 25 June 2003, lot 177.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
P. Courthion, Soutine, peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, no. E (illustrated p. 281).
E. Hoffman, 'Soutine in Paris', in Burlington Magazine, July 1973, vol. CXV, no. 844, p. 485.
Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Soutine, April - September 1973.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

This painting will be included in the revised and supplemented edition of the Soutine catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Maurice Tuchman and Esti Dunow.

When Soutine began to focus on painting the human figure towards the end of the Great War, he chose his subjects carefully. Instead of depicting members of the fashionable bourgeois class as so many of his predecessors had done, Soutine chose to celebrate the working class. Thus grooms, valets, cooks and servants quickly become the protagonists of Soutine's painterly world, all dressed in tightly buttoned uniforms, staring blankly at the viewer. Painted in the immediate foreground, invading our space, these men and women become modern icons of the struggling working class.

By the mid-1930s, however, Soutine was painting fewer uniformed figures, choosing instead less identifiable figures in more everyday clothing. Still largely from the working classes, they appear less imposing than the portraits of the 1920s, no longer completely self-contained, while displaying a greater interaction with their environment and the objects around them. Soutine's figures therefore become less dominant of the canvas, more passive and restrained. La femme à l'ombrelle is one such example; still painted with a characteristic expressionistic and agitated application of paint, the sitter appears calm and introspective, not even facing the viewer as she sits under her umbrella.

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