Lady in Blue, Chaim Soutine
Chaim Soutine was born into a world of woe in Tsarist Russia – in the Pale of Settlement, an area stretching across parts of today’s Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland, in which a majority of the world’s Jews were then regulated and persecuted.
But Soutine’s vocation as an artist got him into most trouble with the Jewish Orthodoxy of his home village, where representations of the human form were banned. A request to a rabbi to sit for a portrait earned him a beating from the model’s outraged kin, but the compensation paid for art tuition in Minsk. In 1913 he joined fellow émigrés such as Chagall, Zadkine and Archipenko in Paris, in La Ruche (The Beehive), the Montparnasse centre of avant-garde creativity.
Soutine remained a deeply tortured soul, communicating that anguish via agonised images in tormented pigment. But by the time of this haunting canvas, and with the support of important patrons, the madness had subsided into sadness. Lady in Blue is an imaginary figure – a portrait of the artist’s poetic melancholy.
Ian Collins, journalist and writer
Facts & figures
For more information, please see our online catalogue.
Other collection highlights
Standing Woman, Alberto Giacometti
Visiting Giacometti’s studio in Paris in 1959, Robert and Lisa Sainsbury saw and greatly admired the plaster for this work.
A large part of its appeal of this axe from north India is its evocation of the human form, with each element sharing properties with the part of the body it recalls.
Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa, Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon’s first portrait of a woman and is also unusual in being painted from life, a practice that he soon abandoned in favour of painting from photographs.