This work will be included in the forthcoming third volume of the Chaïm Soutine catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Maurice Tuchman and Esti Dunow.
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, & Perls, nos. 33-42). In contrast to the meagre 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). Although of smaller scale than other works from the series, Glaïeuls arguably possess one of the richest palettes – with the solidly formed pitcher of rich vermilion-coloured Gladioli resonating against a theatrical backdrop of deep burgundy coloured cloth whose angular peaks and valleys echo the twisting forms of the flowers. This symphony of colour is then energetically maintained through the foreground. Writing on another work from this series, yet also pertinent to the present lot, Maurice Tuchman observes:
"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., Céret 1919-1922, Musée d'art moderne de Céret, 2009, p. 89).