La femme accoudée, c. 1937
Valentine Gallery, New York.
Mr & Mrs William H. Weintraub, New York, acquired from the above after 1944.
The Estate sale of Mrs William H. Weintraub; Sotheby’s, New York, 5 Nov. 1981, lot 245.
Jacob Baal-Teshuva, New York, acquired at the above sale.
Private Collection, South America.
Their sale; Sotheby’s, London, 21 June 2017, lot 63.
P. Courthion, Soutine. Peintre du déchirant, Lausanne, 1972, p. 281 (illus. p. 281, fig. B, titled Femme accoudée, la tête dans les mains and dated 1936).
M. Tuchman, E. Dunow & K. Perls, Chaim Soutine, Catalogue Raisonné, Cologne, 1993, vol. II, p. 750, no. 166 (illus. p. 751).
New York, Valentine Gallery, Eighteen Selected Paintings by Soutine, 3 – 22 May 1937.
Richly hued and expressively painted, La femme accoudée is an enigmatic portrait by Chaïm Soutine from the late 1930s. Executed in his typical palette of red, pink and blue, it bears a striking affinity to his earlier portraits of anonymous sitters identifiable only as valets, cooks and waiters. Though not formally identified, the sitter’s arresting character is powerfully captured in the present work. As Dunow and Tuchman write in their assessment of the artist’s portraiture, ‘Soutine generally chose anonymous figures as models. But as much as his characters may become types, they never give up their identities as particular people. Soutine’s insistence on the physical particularity of his subject, together with this move towards more anonymous sitters demonstrates his resistance to completely losing himself in the subjective aspects of the portrait experience’ (E. Dunow & M. Tuchman, op. cit., p. 509).
Following a decade of relative success, Soutine’s peripatetic movement about Paris gradually halted, and in 1937 he took a permanent studio at 18 Villa Seurat, which was part of an artistic community in the 14e arrondissement. Another resident of the Villa Seurat was the writer Henry Miller, who commented on his neighbour: ‘And there was Soutine who lived right downstairs from me in the Villa Seurat. By that time his bohemian days were over’ (quoted in An Expressionist in Paris. The Paintings of Chaim Soutine, exh. cat., The Jewish Museum, New York, 1998, p. 110). This more settled way of life might be attributable to Soutine’s relationship with a young Jewish woman called Gerda Groth. Gerda, whom he nicknamed Mlle Garde, as she took such good care of him, moved into the Villa Seurat in 1937, was the first woman to live with the artist and provided him with a more stable way of life as well as a readily available model for paintings such as this work.