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Chaim Soutine (1894-1943)
Chaim Soutine (1894-1943)

La robe verte

Chaim Soutine (1894-1943)
La robe verte
oil on canvas
33¼ x 26 in. (84.5 x 66 cm.)
Painted circa 1920-1921
Galerie Zborowski, Paris.
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania (circa 1922-1945).
Bignou Gallery, New York (1945).
Carstairs Gallery, New York.
Dr. Harry Austin Blutman, New York (1959-1971).
Mr. H. Robert Greene, New York (acquired in 1971); sale, Christie's, New York, 19 May 1978, lot 37.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
G. Waldemar, Soutine, Paris, 1959 (illustrated; titled Femme assise; incorrectly dated 1925).
P. Courthion, Soutine: Peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, p. 203, no. F (illustrated).
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): I dipinti della collezione Castaing, exh. cat., Galleria Bergamini, Milan, March-April 1987 (detail illustrated).
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow and K. Perls, Chaim Soutine (1893-1943) Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. II, p. 594, no. 54 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Paul Guillaume, 1923.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1923.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 70 (titled Femme assise).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Chaim Soutine 1893-1943, October-November 1973, no. 4 (titled The Green Dress [Seated Woman]).

Lot Essay

One of the most celebrated artists of the School of Paris, Chaim Soutine was born in the village of Smilovitchi, near Minsk. The tenth child of an impoverished Jewish tailor, Soutine demonstrated his artistic talents at an early age. In 1906, accompanied by his childhood friend Michel Kikoïne, he studied painting in Minsk before attending the School of Fine Arts in Vilna, where he met another artist of the future School of Paris, Pincus Krémègne.

Soutine arrived in Paris around 1912 and took up residence in La Ruche, a dilapilated building composed of artists' studios in Montparnasse. Although early residents of La Ruche included Fernand Léger and the Italian poet Ardengo Soffici, the colony was primarily home to Jewish artists from Eastern Europe who had come to the French capital to work and study.

The present work is characterized by an unrestrained painterliness and physical distortion. Soutine's expressionistic and loose application of paint, his high-keyed palette, and his willful distortion of form seem to challenge the aesthetic values of the French grande tradition--its classical sense of order in nature and its emphasis on measure and structural clarity. As David Sylvester has noted:

This painter of genius came from an Eastern Shtetl where there was not simply no background to painting but positive hostility to painting, so that painting for him was not just a luxury but a forbidden fruit. The act of painting was a magical activity, a weaving of spells, and, since it happened that he could weave spells which by normal standards were unusually potent, he was bound to display the powers he had appropriated. He would want to find a style in which they would not be wasted but could be paraded in all their glory, and obviously the best opening would be a traditional sort of style, sonorous in colour, rich in impasto, and--this above all, perhaps, for a child of orthodox jewry--providing the opportunity to show off his skill in producing recognizable representations. (D. Sylvester, "The Mysteries of Nature within the Mysteries of Paint", in Chaim Soutine, exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain, 1981, pp. 43-44)

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