Chaïm Soutine

(Smilowitschi, Litauen 1893 - 1943 Paris)

The son of a Jewish tailor, Soutine leaves his family in 1909 to take drawing classes in Minsk. He becomes friends with the painter Michel Kikoïne, with whom he will later reunite in Paris. From 1910 until 1913, he studies at an art academy in Wilno (Vilnius). In 1913, he leaves for Paris, where he works in Fernand Cormon’s studio at the École des Beaux-Arts. He meets Marc Chagall. Virtually destitute, Soutine finds shelter at “La Ruche,” a residence for struggling artists. In 1915, he strikes up friendships with Jacques Lipchitz, Amedeo Modigliani, and Maurice Utrillo. He drinks excessively. In 1916, the dealer Léopold Zborowski takes him on. A first stay in Cagnes in 1918 is followed by three years, in 1919–1922, during which the artist spends most of his time there and in Céret. The American Albert C. Barnes buys a large number of Soutine’s pictures in 1923, relieving him of all material cares in one fell swoop. Until 1940, he mostly lives in Paris, with occasional stays in Cagnes, Lèves near Chartres (where he is hosted by the Castaings, husband-and-wife collectors), and Auxerre. As a Jew, Soutine is forced to escape occupied Paris in 1941. After briefly finding refuge in Champigny-sur-Veude, he spends his last remaining years in hiding, constantly moving to avoid arrest.