Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943)

Paysage du midi

Chaïm Soutine (1893–1943)
Paysage du midi
signed 'Soutine' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 7/8 x 20 5/8 in. (63.2 x 52.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1918
Charles Hall Thorndike, by whom acquired directly from the artist, and thence by bequest.
Private collection, Paris.
Anonymous sale, Bellier, Paris, 6 July 1999.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, The Impact of Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943): de Kooning, Pollock, Dubuffet, Nacon, November - December 2001, p. 151 (illustrated, p. 150).
New York, Cheim & Read, The New Landscape, The New Still Life: Soutine and Modern Art, June - September 2006, n.p. (illustrated).
Special notice
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Michelle McMullan, Specialist, Head of Day Sale
Michelle McMullan, Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

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

The landscapes that Soutine painted at Cagnes-sur-Mer in the period between 1915 to 1925 represent a critical moment in the artist's career. Soutine had first visited Cagnes during the spring and summer of 1918 with Modigliani, Foujita, and their dealer, Léopold Zborowski. This trip, which coincided with the German bombardment of Paris, marked the first time that Soutine, a native of Lithuania, had left the capital since his arrival in France five years earlier. From 1919 until 1922, Soutine lived in Céret, a small town in the French Pyrenées where Picasso and Braque had painted together earlier in the decade. He returned to Cagnes in 1923, remaining this time for at least two years.

The picturesque hamlet on the Côte d'Azur, with its old houses and twisting olive trees, had already inspired scores of artists, most notably Renoir, who lived there from 1908 until his death eleven years later. Soutine struggled to depict the sun-drenched vistas, writing to Zborowski, ‘I have done only seven canvases. I am sorry about this. I wanted to leave Cagnes, this landscape which I cannot stand any more. I even went for a few days to Cap Martin, where I thought I would settle. I did not like it, and I had to paint over some pictures I had begun. I am back in Cagnes, against my will’ (quoted in An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaïm Soutine, exh. cat., New York, 1998, p. 103). Despite these frustrations, Soutine came to view his time at Cagnes as a turning point in his artistic development, and he often bought back and destroyed paintings that he had produced before this seminal sojourn.

The present canvas, with its vivid palette and swirling, gestural impasto, is characteristic of Soutine's finest landscapes. At Céret, Soutine had typically painted compact, claustrophobic scenes that focus on small details of the terrain, such as a group of trees. At Cagnes, he adopted a more distant vantage point over the rambling rooftops and gnarled vegetation, often centering the composition around a vertiginous pathway that leads the viewer into the scene. Maurice Tuchman has written, ‘At Cagnes the palette becomes brighter and more luminous, due in part to the summer climate of the Midi. The mature Cagnes landscapes have an airy, buoyant, fairy tale quality. More often than not, a large view of the town, seen from above, typifies the Cagnes style... The opening up of the space is reiterated by the inclusion of a form that visually and literally (a road or steps) invites us to enter. This accessibility is diametrically opposed to the claustrophobic sensation generated by the Céret paintings of finding ourselves already inside the landscape. Greater atmospheric breadth and luminosity, a brighter palette of increasingly pastel-like colors, and a reduced sense of scale all contribute to this sense of expansion. They also introduce a note of playfulness, in contrast to the seriousness of Céret’ (M. Tuchman, E. Dunow and K. Perls, Chaïm Soutine, Catalogue raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. I, p. 980).

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