Chaïm Soutine was born Chaim-Iche Solomonovich Sutin on 13 January 1893, in Smilavichy, near Minsk, Russia (now Belarus). In 1910, at the age of thirteen, he travelled to Vilna (now Vilnius) where he studied at the School of Fine Arts for three years. Soutine moved to Paris in 1913, where he settled in La Ruche – a group of artist’s studios near the old Vaugirard slaughterhouses in Montparnasse. Marc Chagall, Isaac Dobrinsky and Jacques Lipchitz were amongst his neighbours, all of whom lived in great poverty. Soon after arriving in Paris, Soutine started studying under Fernand Cormon at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he would remain until 1915. In the same year, Lipchitz would introduce Soutine to Amedeo Modigliani, who would become a close friend.


In Paris, Soutine frequented the Louvre where he was particularly impressed by the work of Rembrandt, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and Jean Fouquet. He swiftly developed a highly idiosyncratic style, characterised by bold, expressionistic brushwork and thick impasto. In 1917, Modigliani introduced Soutine to the Polish art dealer Léopold Zborowski, who would support the artist through the final years of the First World War, taking him to Nice in 1918 along with Modigliani and Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita. In 1919, Zborowski sent Soutine to Céret in the Pyrenees, where he would stay for three years, executing over two-hundred paintings that included numerous frenetically painted landscapes. He returned to Paris in 1923, where Paul Guillaume – who had taken an interest in his work – organised a viewing of his work that transformed the artist’s fortunes: prominent American collector Albert Barnes would buy sixty of Soutine’s paintings on the spot, raising Soutine out of poverty and elevating his artistic reputation.


During the 1920s, Soutine painted numerous portraits of French service workers, including cooks and waiting staff of French hotels and restaurants. He also painted a numerous still-lifes, with a particular propensity for dead fish, fowl, and carcasses of beef – the latter inspired by Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox, 1655 (Louvre, Paris). In 1927, Soutine had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Bing, Paris. From 1929, Marcellin and Madeleine Castaing would become his patrons and he would spend summers in their mansion of Lèves, near Chartres. Soutine fled to Touraine during the Second World War, though he died on 9 August 1943 in Paris.


Soutine’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo; the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris; the Tate Collection, London.


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