Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)

Nature morte aux poissons, oeufs et citrons

Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Nature morte aux poissons, oeufs et citrons
signed 'Soutine' (lower left)
oil on canvas
25 ¾ x 32 in. (65.4 x 81.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1924
Paul Guillaume, Paris.
Dr. Jacques Soubiès, Paris.
Dikran Khan Kelekian, New York (by November 1938).
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York (by 1941); sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, 11 April 1946, lot 33.
Valentine Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale).
Jacques Sarlie, New York.
Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, November 1950).
William March Campbell, Mobile, Alabama (by 1952).
Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, 1954).
Armand Amante (Galerie de l'Art Moderne), Paris (acquired from the above, February 1956).
Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne (1956).
Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, Chicago (1956).
Victor Kiam, New York.
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Inc., New York (acquired from the above, December 1961).
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, June 1974.
A. Forge, Soutine, London, 1965, pp. 16 and 40 (illustrated in color, pl. 22; dated circa 1923).
P. Courthion, Soutine, peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, p. 86 (illustrated in color, p. 87; illustrated again, p. 252, no. C; titled Nature morte aux poissons et aux oeufs, dated 1926-1927 and with incorrect provenance).
M. Tuchman, Art International, 20 January 1974, p. 32 (illustrated in color).
A. Werner, Chaim Soutine, New York, 1977, p. 102, no. 19 (illustrated, p. 55, fig. 66; illustrated again in color, p. 103; titled Still Life With Fish and dated 1926-1927).
E.-G. Güse, ed., C. Soutine, exh. cat., Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Münster, 1981, pp. 79-82 and 251 (illustrated, p. 79; dated 1923).
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow and K. Perls, Chaim Soutine, Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 2001, vol. I, pp. 410 and 412, no. 54 (illustrated in color, p. 413).
New York, Anderson Galleries, A Selected Group of Modern Paintings belonging to Dikran Khan Kelekian, November 1938, no. 53.
Richmond, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., January-May 1941, p. 134, no. 247 (titled Still Life).
Palm Beach, Florida, Society of the 4 Arts, Paintings by Chaim Soutine, February-March 1952, no. 16 (titled Still Life with Fish and dated circa 1923).
New York, Perls Galleries, Chaim Soutine, November-December 1953, no. 12 (titled Nature morte aux poissons).
New York, Perls Galleries, The William March Collection of Modern French Masterpieces, October-November 1954, no. 20 (illustrated).
New York, Perls Galleries, The Perls Galleries Collection of Modern French Paintings, March-April 1955, no. 218 (titled Nature morte aux poissons).
New York, Perls Galleries, The Perls Galleries Collection of Modern French Paintings, January-February 1956, no. 227 (titled Nature morte aux poissons).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., Aspects of Twentieth Century Art, July-August 1962, no. 39 (illustrated in color).
London, Tate Gallery and Edinburgh Arts Festival, Chaim Soutine, August-November 1963, pp. 17 and 21, no. 25.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Chaim Soutine, February-April 1968, p. 115, no. 61 (illustrated).
Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Soutine, May-August 1968, no. 24.
New York, Malborough-Gerson Gallery, Inc., International Expressionism, April-May 1968, no. 62 (illustrated).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., European Masters, 1969, no. 67 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery Co., Ltd., Masters of Twentieth Century, October 1972, no. 31 (illustrated in color).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Chaim Soutine, October-November 1973, p. 14, no. 34 (illustrated in color, p. 50).
Tokyo, Odakyu Museum; Nara Sogo Museum; Ibaraki, Kasama Nichido Museum and Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Chaïm Soutine Centenary Exhibition, November 1992-May 1993, p. 144, no. 46 (illustrated in color, p. 78).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Soutine painted this Nature morte aux poissons at the height of his Cagnes period, during the years 1923-1925. The pictures he completed during the first half of the 1920s are his first fully evolved and strongly characteristic works, unprecedented and wholly his own in their irrepressible intensity of expression, featuring those subjects for which he is most prized today. Soutine painted like no other artist of his time, followed only decades later when the post-war generation of American expressionists would claim him as a precursor to their newly vital and instinctual approach to painting.
Soutine first visited Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Côte d’Azur during 1918, in the company of his friend Modigliani and their neophyte dealer Léopold Zborowski. He spent the years 1919-1922 in Céret, a town in the Pyrénées-Orientales region of southwestern France, working in isolation, but painting more than two hundred canvases, mostly mountainous landscapes–“a body of work unique in modern times,” Maurice Tuchman has declared, “ecstatic for their convulsiveness and evocation of exhilarant sensation” (op. cit., 1993, vol. 1, p. 19).
A most fortunate event would alter Soutine’s life following his return to Paris in 1922. The American collector Albert C. Barnes came upon one of his recent paintings in a group exhibition Zborowski had organized. At the urging of the astute dealer Paul Guillaume, who published in January 1923 the first article on Soutine, Barnes met with the artist, and ended up buying as many as a hundred paintings straight out of his studio, for which he paid around 60,000 francs. “No contemporary painter has achieved,” Barnes claimed, “an individual plastic form of more originality and power than Soutine” (The Art in Painting, Merion Station, Pennsylvania, 1925/1956, p. 375).
With proceeds from the Barnes sales paying his way, Soutine travelled south again in 1923 to sojourn in Cagnes, while making occasional trips to Paris. At first he complained to Zborowski about being “in a bad state of mind...a state of indecision.” During 1924 he nevertheless again hit his stride, for as Monroe Wheeler understood, “This cry of failure preceded on one of the finest phases of his art” (Soutine, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1950, p. 61). He continued to paint landscapes, while turning with increasing frequency to still lifes and portraits as well.
Soutine had recently fallen under the sway of Rembrandt, the artist he would idolize above all others, and the example of the realists Courbet and Corot–three painters in whom he found, in Andrew Forge’s words, a compatibly “unreserved grip on reality...a rediscovery of matter” (op. cit., 1965, p. 15). They–and Cézanne, too–inspired Soutine to reconsider the slashing, precipitous forms of the Céret landscapes by instilling a measure of that orderliness for which still life painting is traditionally appreciated. The turbulence of his sensations have been partly domesticated, as it were, in the present Nature morte aux poissons, and rendered more intimately–even if in terms of the painter’s vigorous handling, hardly less fervently than before.
“The Cagnes style differs from the Céret style in that its rhythms are more curvilinear, less abrupt, and that it opens, instead of asserts, the picture-plane,” David Sylvester has explained. “The major successes of the Cagnes period are mostly among the portraits and still lifes...because the motif imposes a shallow space that suits the continuous flowing line... A new feeling for physical weight brings with it a more concentrated and stable kind of composition” (“Soutine,” About Modern Art, New York, 1997, pp. 124, 125 and 127).
Forge has described Nature morte aux poissons as an “almost heraldic arrangement, which was present in the earlier still lifes, but is now far more conscious, regular and elaborate: the four fish matched by pairs of eggs and lemons, the bread bisected by the contrived as the set pieces one sees on high-class fishmonger’s slabs” (op. cit., 1965, p. 40). Indeed, as Sylvester noted, Soutine “could practically do all his shopping for his still lifes at the butcher’s or the fishmonger’s... He painted what was literally nature morte” (op. cit., 1997, p. 112). During 1925 Soutine commenced his famous series of suspended poultry, rabbits and–pursuing his love of Rembrandt–carcasses and sides of beef.
“[Soutine] identified himself wholeheartedly with the tradition of painting in front of appearances,” Forge wrote. “For him contact with the subject was an emotional necessity... Everything he paints becomes a part of himself... He was never able to see a thing as an inanimate object removed from the world of living things or human feelings. Rather he endows everything with life, in the most literal sense... He is like a man painting out of darkness, filling his dark world with things and people... His handling must be naïve, bringing nothing from the past of skill or knowledge or practice... His best pictures are unquestionable, like the things they are of... You have the feeling that Soutine is inventing painting while you look” (op. cit., 1965, pp. 13, 28, 32-33).
Fig. Chaim Soutine, Nature morte à la raie, circa 1924. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. BARCODE: nyrphhsh

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