Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)
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Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)

Paysage du Midi

Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)
Paysage du Midi
signed 'Soutine' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 ¾ x 31 7/8 in. (65.4 x 81 cm.)
Painted circa 1922-1923
Marlborough Fine Art, London, by 1953.
Sir Edward and Lady Hulton, London, by 1957.
Marlborough Fine Art, London, by whom acquired from the above in March 1981.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 30 June 1981, lot 38.
Perls Galleries, New York, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in June 1988.
Das Kunstwerk, vol. 18, no. 5, November 1964, p. 35 (illustrated; titled 'Südfranzösische Landschaft').
P. Courthion, Soutine, Peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, p. 208 (illustrated fig. A; titled 'Paysage du Midi au grand arbre fourchu' and dated '1921').
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow & K. Perls, Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943), Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Cologne, 1993, no. 108, p. 233 (illustrated).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., Important French Masters of the XIXth and XXth Centuries, February - March 1953, no. 30, p. 19 (illustrated).
London, Tate Gallery, A Selection of Pictures, Drawings and Sculpture from the Collections of Sir Edward and Lady Hulton, August - September 1957, no. 31.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 16 (illustrated).
Wuppertal, Kunst- und Museumsverein, Sammlung Sir Edward und Lady Hulton, London, 1964, no. 52 (illustrated; titled 'Südfranzösische Landschaft' and dated 'circa 1920'); this exhibition later travelled to Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen; the Frankfurter Kunstverein; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; and Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, between September 1964 and August 1965.
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Hulton-samlingen, July - August 1966, no. 49 (titled 'Sydfranskt landskap' and dated 'circa 1920').
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Sammlung Sir Edward and Lady Hulton London, December 1967 - January 1968, no. 53, p. 17 (illustrated; titled 'Südfranzösische Landschaft' and dated 'circa 1920').
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Chaïm Soutine 1893-1943, December 1981 - February 1982, no. 51, p. 245 (illustrated p. 194; titled 'Landschaft in Südfrankreich' and dated '1924'); this exhibition later travelled to Tübingen, Kunsthalle, March - May 1985; London, Hayward Gallery, July - August 1982; and Lucerne, Kunstmuseum, August - October 1982.
Lugano, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Chaïm Soutine, March - June 1995, no. 49, p. 166 (illustrated p. 97).
Paris, Pinacothèque, Soutine, October 2007 - January 2008, no. 35, pp. 115-116 (illustrated).
Basel, Kunstmuseum, Soutine und die Moderne, March - July 2008, no. 25, p. 269 (illustrated p. 89).
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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

‘It was 1923, at Cagnes, one morning. L. Bosch had met Soutine seated on the edge of a path at the bottom of the village, with his paint box and easel still close, resting near him while he certainly was preparing himself to attack the motif. Later in the afternoon, passing by the same place, L. Bosch found Soutine there, still seated and holding his head in his hands, having to yet set up his easel. The painter was taciturn by nature; however, to Bosch’s surprised question: “Why such long wait?” – [he replied] I am waiting for the wind to rise’ (F.H. Lem, quoted in Soutine, exh. cat., Chartres, 1989, p. 154).

Capturing the vibrant, sun-drenched vitality of the Mediterranean in a whirl of vivid colour, Paysage du Midi belongs to a series of dynamic landscapes which Chaïm Soutine executed in Southern France in the early 1920s. With dense and vigorous brushstrokes, in Paysage du Midi Soutine has transformed a hill and its trees into a copious mass of ebullient paint. Yellow strikes of paint cross the surface like flowing rivers of pure colour, while the greens rage above: curled and dense, they carry in their twirl everything else. The few visible houses on the hill are swept by this colour tide, barely keeping atop the immense verdant wave of trees that has invaded the picture. 

Paysage du Midi was executed between 1922 and 1923. At the time, Soutine was dividing his time between Paris and the South of France. In 1922, he was sent to Cagnes by his dealer Léopold Zborowski to find new exciting subjects to paint. Wishing to foster the talent of the painter, the dealer had once before encouraged Soutine to paint in the South of France: in 1919, he had provided him with a daily allowance to live and paint at Céret, the small town in the Pyrenees where, in the 1910s, the Cubists had sojourned. At Céret Soutine had produced some truly remarkable works and, in 1922, Zborowski’s support and generosity had paid off. Towards the end of that year, the wealthy and influential collector Albert C. Barnes had discovered Soutine’s Céret work, buying in bulk Zborowski’s stock. On the wave of such an extraordinary event, Zborowski immediately encouraged Soutine to return to the South, this time to Cagnes, certain that a new scenery would inspire a new series of noteworthy paintings. His intuition would prove correct: the sun-drenched, wide expanse of the Côte-d’Azur would encourage Soutine to further develop the vivid and unique style of his landscapes. Imbued with bright light and more ample passages of colour, Paysage du Midi was likely painted on that occasion. 

Despite the palpable enjoyment that landscapes such as Paysage du Midi convey, Soutine was, at least at first, daunted by the force of Southern France. In a letter dated 1923 and addressed to Zborowski, the painter had lamented: ‘I have done only seven canvases. I am sorry about this. I wanted to leave Cagnes, this landscape which I cannot stand any more… Instead of landscapes, I shall have to do some wretched still-lifes… Can’t you suggest some place for me?’ (quoted in An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaïm Soutine, exh. cat., New York, 1998, p. 103). Another account, however, seems to suggest that Soutine’s apparent frustration was just a by-product of the inspiring challenge that the new landscape posed to him. Zborowski’s secretary Paulette Jourdain – who closely looked after Soutine and posed for him – remembered him admitting that the Côte-d’Azur ‘was too beautiful to paint’ (quoted in Soutine, exh. cat., Chartres, 1989, p. 174). The rapt enthusiasm that landscapes such as Paysage du Midi convey lends credibility to Jourdain’s recollection, suggesting that the forceful character of the Mediterranean coast had indeed something to offer to Soutine’s uncompromising and passionate painting. If the austere and rocky character of Céret had inspired Soutine with angular and tense landscapes, in Cagnes and the surrounding countryside the artist discovered a new impetus: the bright light and vivid colour of the Mediterranean coast brought into his work a more ample dimension, in which swirling brushstrokes, bountiful passages of colour and wider vistas pushed Soutine’s landscape paintings even further, as shown in the dynamic, overwhelming delight conveyed in Paysage du Midi

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