Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)

Les Glaïeuls

Chaim Soutine (1893-1943)
Les Glaïeuls
signed 'Soutine' (upper right)
oil on canvas
31½ x 23 5/8 in. (80.1 x 60 cm.)
Painted circa 1919
The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania (1923).
Kurt Mettler, St. Gallen, Switzerland (acquired from the above, 1930).
Valentine Gallery (Valentine Dudensing), New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph F. Colin, New York (acquired from the above, 13 February 1945); sale, Christie's, New York, 10 May 1995, lot 23.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Werner, "Affinity for an Alien World" in Art Digest, 15 November 1953, pp. 17-18.
J. Tworkov, "Flowers and Realism" in Art News, vol. 53, no. 3, May 1954, p. 23 (illustrated).
Philadelphia Museum Bulletin, vol. 58, no. 277, spring 1963, p. 173 (illustrated).
P. Courthion, Soutine: peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, p. 208, no. B (illustrated; titled Fleurs en pot sur la table and dated 1921-1922).
R. Cogniat, Soutine, Paris, 1973, p. 23 (illustrated in color; dated 1921-1922).
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow, and K. Perls, Chaim Soutine: Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. I, p. 388, no. 36 (illustrated in color, p. 391).
Soutine: Céret 1919-1922, exh. cat., Musée d'art moderne de Céret, 2000, p. 465 (illustrated in color).
M. Tuchman and E. Dunow, The Impact of Chaim Soutine (1893-1943): de Kooning, Pollock, Dubuffet, Bacon, exh. cat., Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, 2001, p. 121 (illustrated in color, p. 120).
(possibly) Paris, Paul Guillaume, Acquisitions of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, January-February 1923.
(possibly) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Recent Acquisitions of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, April-May 1923, no. 50.
(possibly) New York, Valentine Gallery, Twelve Portraits by Modigliani and a Group of Modern French Paintings, January 1940, no. 16 (dated 1921).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1951 (on loan).
Palm Beach, Society of the 4 Arts, Paintings by Chaim Soutine, February-March 1952, no. 4.
New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Still Life and the School of Paris, December 1952, no. 19 (illustrated; dated circa 1921).
New York, Perls Galleries, Chaim Soutine, November-December 1953, no. 2.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Magic of Flowers in Painting, April-May 1954, no. 75 (dated 1921).
Westport, Leonid Kipnis Gallery, Flowers in Art, April 1955.
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., The Colin Collection, April-May 1960, no. 79 (illustrated).
Philadelphia Museum of Art, A World of Flowers, Paintings and Prints, May-June 1963, p. 173 (illustrated; dated 1921-1923).
New York, Perls Galleries, Chaim Soutine, November-December 1969, no. 2 (illustrated in color).
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Inc., Chaim Soutine, October-November 1973, no. 13 (illustrated, p. 29).
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte; Kunsthalle Tübingen and London, Hayward Gallery, Chaim Soutine, December 1981-August 1982, p. 241, no. 14 (illustrated in color, p. 157).
Munich, Galerie Thomas, Chaim Soutine: Die Leidenschaft des Malens, March-May 2009, pp. 85-89 (illustrated in color, p. 85; detail illustrated in color, p. 88).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

In 1919, shortly before Soutine left Montparnasse for Céret, he painted at least ten still-lifes that depict bouquets of gladioli bursting forth from a small pitcher, the blossoms surging across the surface of the canvas in skeins of crimson paint (Tuchman, Dunow, and Perls, nos. 33-42). In contrast to the meager mealtime arrangements and restrained floral bouquets that Soutine had been painting since 1916, these gladioli still-lifes are characterized by a powerfully expressive handling that recalls Van Gogh's sunflowers (although Soutine went to great lengths to deny Van Gogh's influence). Monroe Wheeler has written, "The point of his fascination and research in them all seems to have been the play of thick but sinuous stems and flaring red blossoms. It may not have been so much the true forms of the leaves and petals which appealed to him as the blood-redness, fire-redness, which he rendered like little licking flames" (Soutine, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1950, p. 46). The present Glaïeuls is the largest and most elaborately worked of the sequence, the pitcher resting atop a crumpled, vermilion-colored cloth whose angular peaks and valleys echo the twisting forms of the flowers. Maurice Tuchman has written about this painting:

"With its forms thrusting and straining over the surface, this painting reinforces so many of the tendencies of the earlier works while establishing a clear transition to the all-over convulsion and entanglement of the Céret landscapes of 1919 to 1922. The space is increasingly compressed and pressurized; the forms flatten out and the liquid pigment surface asserts itself as a tangible entity. The chaotic swirl of brush and actual paint, together with the packed tangle of forms, tilted and toppling, create an image of raw energy. Indeed, the emotional intensity is now conveyed more through paint, form, and rhythm than by subject matter" (exh. cat., op. cit., 2009, p. 89).

Les Glaïeuls also has an exceptionally important provenance. Its first owner was none other than Dr. Albert Barnes, the wealthy American industrialist whose now-legendary discovery of Soutine transformed the artist's fortunes almost overnight, bringing him both financial security and international recognition. In December 1922, Barnes, who had already amassed a world-class collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, was struck by a portrait by Soutine that he saw in the Paris gallery of Paul Guillaume. Guillaume took Barnes to visit Soutine's dealer Leopold Zborowski, who sold him all the paintings by the artist that he had on hand--a total of fifty-two canvases. The present painting may have been featured in both an exhibition of Barnes's recent purchases at Guillaume's gallery in January 1923 and a group show that Barnes mounted later in the year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which introduced Soutine's work to an American audience.

In 1945, Les Glaïeuls entered another celebrated collection, that of Ralph and Georgia Colin, whose guest book was a veritable who's-who of the New York cultural scene at mid-century. The first painting that the Colins ever purchased, in the early 1930s, was a Soutine that is said to have shocked their friends; undeterred, they hung it over their mantelpiece and went on to acquire fifteen more canvases by the artist, which took their place alongside vanguard works by Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Modigliani, and Dubuffet. When the Colin collection, including the present painting, was first exhibited publicly at Knoedler in 1960, James Thrall Soby (of The Museum of Modern Art) wrote, "The Colins...bring to their purchases not only instinctive flair, but comparative standards which allow them to recognize quality within quality, that is to pick out outstanding works by outstanding artists. As a result, their collection abounds with absolute jewels" (exh. cat., op. cit., 1960, n.p.).

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