Chaim Soutine (Smilovitchi, 1893 – Paris, 1943)
Céret, circa 1920
Oil on canvas, 55 x 65 cm
Gift of Claire Maratier
Chaim Soutine (Smilovitchi, 1893 – Paris, 1943), Céret Landscape, circa 1920
Chaim Soutine was born into a poor family in a small village in Lithuania. The gift for painting he showed from an early age was thwarted by a traditional education. He left home to go to Minsk then to Vilna, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He joined his fellow countrymen Kikoine and Kremegne in Paris in 1913, living and working at La Ruche and in Cité Falguière, where like many he experienced misery and destitution. In 1919, his art dealer, Léopold Zborowski, sent him to Céret in the South of France and it was during his stay there that his work increased in chromatic, textural and formal power. The construction of this landscape, characteristic of the Céret period, creates a diagonal tipping the composition to the right. The tree in the foreground, dominating the chaotic cluster of houses yet almost entangled with it, has the animal form of the poultry carcasses Soutine also painted during this period.