Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)
Property from the Collection of Simone and Jean TirocheJean and Simone Tiroche were at the heart of bohemian nightlife of Tel Aviv. They were often gracious and generous hosts at home and in bars and restaurants. In 1959, following a visit to the Omar Kayam night club in Jaffa, Jean was inspired to close his shop on Dizengoff St., and instead to focus his efforts on Old Jaffa. He bought a former brothel there and turned it into the old city's first art gallery, opening in 1960. Jean's pioneering bent led to his being among the first to buy a ruin in Jaffa before restoring, converting and transforming it in 1962 into one of the most beautiful houses in Israel. In this magical setting Simone and Jean would entertain foreign actors, artists and politicians, who were invited to witness the new burgeoning cultural scene in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The Tiroche Gallery and its steady influx of influential visitors markedly enlivened Jaffa's night life. The exotic exhibition space quickly became a hub for younger and older artists and bohemians alike, bringing a new energy to the area. The Tiroches relished the Parisian salon-like lifestyle of the new gallery, which attracted the "celebs" of the day. Jean was a self-taught and self-made man. The artists of the School of Paris were his main field of expertise. In his Jaffa gallery, he exhibited works by artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Moïse Kisling, and Jules Pascin. His taste was innovative and modern. He also promoted local artists, such as Nachum Gutman, an established figure at the time, and more contemporary figures such as Aharon Messeg. Over the following decade, Jean came to the conclusion that he was not fully exploiting his knowledge and potential in Israel. In 1982, he therefore established himself part-time in Europe. He now became an international dealer, working at the higher end of the market, buying and selling in many countries, not least Japan. Tall and red-headed, he became a familiar figure in auction houses around the world. He was also widely respected for his expertise in his field. Chaïm Soutine’s Nature morte aux poissons was in the personal collection of Jean and Simone Tiroche since 1973. Christie’s is honored to present this work on behalf of the Tiroche family, whose artistic and commercial legacy lives on in their three children, each of whom are committed to careers in the art world and are experts in their chosen fields.
Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)

Nature morte aux poissons

Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)
Nature morte aux poissons
signed ‘C Soutine’ (upper right)
oil on canvas
28 3/8 x 21 in. (72 x 53.2 cm.)
Painted circa 1921-1922
Mr. Baryeras.
Aram D. Mourandian, Paris.
Mme. Picot, Paris.
Anon. sale, Palais Galliéra, Paris, 4 June 1973, lot 41.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
Montrouge, XXXIe Salon de Montrouge, C. Soutine, April-May 1986, no. 13 (illustrated in color; dated circa 1925 and titled Nature morte chaise et poisson).
Musée de Chartres, Soutine, June-October 1989, p. 192, no. 35 (illustrated in color, p. 193; dated circa 1925).

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming new edition of the Chaim Soutine catalogue raisonne currently being prepared by Maurice Tuchman and Esti Dunow.

The paintings Soutine 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. Soutine painted like no other artist of his time, heralded decades later be the post-war generation of American expressionists who 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 in 1918, in the company of his friend Amedeo 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” (M. Tuchman, E. Dunow and K. Perls, Chaïm Soutine, Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 2001, vol. I, 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 the first article on Soutine in January 1923, 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, Pennsylvania, 1925, p. 375).
With proceeds from the Barnes sales paying his way, Soutine traveled 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.
“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).
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). “[Soutine] identified himself wholeheartedly with the tradition of painting in front of appearances,” Andrew 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” (Soutine, London, 1965, pp. 13, 28 and 32-33).
The Jewish Museum will present Chaïm Soutine: Flesh from May to September 2018 in New York, an exhibition dedicated to the artist's still-lifes from his early years in Paris and Céret, through the early 1930s. This exhibition will focus on paintings similar in subject to Nature morte aux poissons, works which demonstrate Soutine's incredibly expressionistic approach to painting, and his ability to capture the energy and intensity of death and inanimate objects.

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