CHAÏM SOUTINE (1893-1943)
CHAÏM SOUTINE (1893-1943)
CHAÏM SOUTINE (1893-1943)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE BELGIAN COLLECTION
CHAÏM SOUTINE (1893-1943)

La volaille pendue aux briques rouges

CHAÏM SOUTINE (1893-1943)
La volaille pendue aux briques rouges
oil on canvas
35 1⁄2 x 20 1⁄8 in. (90.2 x 51.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1924
Private collection.
Katia Granoff, Paris, by whom acquired from the above, by 1951, and thence by descent.
Private collection, Belgium, by whom acquired from the above in 2013.
J. Lassaigne, Soutine, Paris, 1954, no. 8, n.p. (inverted image illustrated pl. 8; titled 'Le coq sur fond de brique').
J. Diwo, 'Soutine, Le dernier maudit', in Paris Match, Paris, 8 August 1959, p. 69 (inverted image illustrated).
P. Courthion, Soutine, Peintre du déchirant, Paris, 1972, no. C, p. 244 (illustrated; titled 'Dinde sur fond de briques rouges' and dated '1925').
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow & K. Perls, Chaim Soutine, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, Cologne, 1993, no. 66, p. 426 (illustrated p. 429).
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Nature mortes françaises du XVIIe siècle à nos jours, 1951, no. 191, n.p. (titled 'La dinde').
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent tableaux de Soutine, 1959, no. 62, n.p.. (titled 'Dinde sur fond de briques rouges').
Paris, Galerie Katia Granoff, Espoirs et Certitudes de Katia Granoff, June - July 1964.
Tokyo, Musée Odakyu, À Paris, cafés d’artistes et leurs légendes: Montmartre, Montparnasse et Saint-Germain, October - November 1999; this exhibition later travelled to Mie, Musée préfectoral, November - December 1999; Yokohama, Musée Sogo, January 2000; Osaka Umeda, Musée d'Art Daimaru, February 2000; and Takamatsu, Musée municipal d'Art, February - March 2000.
Nogent-sur-Seine, Musée Paul Dubois-Alfred Boucher, Centenaire du Musée de Nogent-sur-Seine et de 'La Ruche' de Paris, Summer 2002, no. 12.
Budapest, Holokauszt Emlékközpont, Modigliani, Soutine et leurs amis de Montparnasse, July - October 2003.
Paris, Pinacothèque de Paris, Soutine, October 2007- January 2008, no. 59, n.p. (details illustrated; illustrated again n.p.).
Basel, Kunstmuseum, Soutine und die Moderne, March - July 2008, no. 41, pp. 138 & 270 (illustrated p. 139).
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Chaïm Soutine has been interpreted as both an outsider – a ‘naïve’ painter – and a Parisian master embedded in artistic tradition. His oeuvre abounds with chaotic landscapes reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh, psychologically penetrating and distorted portraiture, and still lifes that act as luscious paeans to the physicality of paint. These works both recall art history, particularly the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, and anticipate the materiality of American Abstract Expressionism. This dichotomy, the push and pull of past and future, is evident in the subject matter and execution of Soutine’s La volaille pendue aux briques rouges, an extravagantly painted image of a fowl hung against the pulsating red of a brick wall.

Following his move to Paris in 1913 at the age of twenty, Soutine was profoundly influenced by formative trips to the Musée du Louvre, which exposed the artist to Dutch still lifes, most crucially Rembrandt’s Le Boeuf écorché (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Alongside fellow Jewish immigrants Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani, he became known as a member of the so-called École de Paris (School of Paris), a group of international artists living and working in Paris, united not by a common style but by their backgrounds and fervent anti-academicism.

In French the still life genre is known as nature morte, literally dead nature, a designation Soutine seems to have taken literally. From 1923-29 the artist painted a number of lifeless animals, including fowl, rabbits, and carcasses of beef in stark, bold compositions that revel in the materiality of paint. La volaille pendue aux briques rouges comes from a small a series of paintings depicting a single, central chicken suspended by its neck that the artist explored through 1924-25. A number of these compositions place the bird against a field of intense red – one of Soutine’s signature colours – which in a number of the compositions, including Poulet et Tomates (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart) and Le poulet pendu devant un mur de briques (Kunstmuseum Bern) is legible as brickwork. In the present painting, however, it encircles the chicken like a nimbus, its referent only hinted at by a handful of strategic black markings. This red surrounds an inky blackness from which the chicken emerges, thickly painted in swathes of dark pigment that encroach upon the bird’s bright body. Here, Soutine has moved beyond the particularity of setting, concentrating instead on the emotive potential of the backdrop, in the unsettling contrast between the brilliant red and the dense darkness.

The body of the chicken is described through slick curves of purple, hints of green, and vigorous strokes of yellows – a lush, almost sensuous creation of form at odds with the nature of the subject. Even the drops of red blood that snake down the fowl’s legs are at once lovely and terrible. Soutine’s friend, the critic Elie Faure, described the surprising beauty of these animals: ‘… flesh more like flesh than flesh itself… painted with streams of rubies, with sulfur on fire, droplets of turquoise, emerald lakes crushed with sapphires… so what if this comes from bloody meat, there is spirit’ (quoted in N. Kleeblatt, An Expressionist in Paris: The Paintings of Chaim Soutine, exh. cat., New York, 1998, p. 32).

Soutine often built up pigment into thick impastos, even spackling the canvas with a palette knife or carving into it with the handle of a brush. By concentrating on the physicality of his materials, the artist created a gestural and expressive map of his painting process. The calligraphic brushwork of La volaille pendue aux briques rouges, particularly visible in the trembling blue-black of the bird’s wings and the slice of red defining its gaping beak, traces the passage of the artist’s hand. Soutine has here employed the tactility of his pigments, their juicy liquidity, to both impart a sense of disquiet and accentuate the surface of his canvas.
Soutine’s emphasis on the materiality of paint does not detract from his dedication to direct observation. It sometimes took the artist days to wring the desired effect from his subject matter, repeatedly painting a single motif until he captured its full expressive potential. So intent was his focus that, according to his dealer Léopold Zborowski, the artist slept beside his work, and often forgot to eat amidst his creative fervour. During the course of his labours his models began to decompose, losing the lustre of their surfaces. Soutine compensated for this by purchasing blood from a nearby butcher, and lavishly applying it to the hanging carcasses. Legend has it that Chagall, when visiting Soutine in the latter’s apartments, was horrified to see blood seeping out underneath the front door and ran away shouting ‘someone’s killed Soutine!’ (J. Wullschlager, Chagall, London, 2008, p. 154).

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