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Altar Boy

Enfant de chœur

Between 1925 and 1930, Soutine painted a series of altar boys, sometimes seated sometimes standing and in full-length. This series was produced at the same time as the series of flayed oxen and again we still see the expression of the artist's fascination for reds. The painter often visited the Louvre where he admired the paintings of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Rembrandt (1606-1669) and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) in particular. Courbet's L’enterrement à Ornans [Burial at Ornans], with its procession of altar boys in red robes and white surplices may have been what sparked Soutine's interest in these figures. The costumes of these altar boys allowed him to make his two favourite colours sing: crimsons and white.
Here the model is presented in half-length in three-quarter against a relatively uniform blue-black background that acts as a frame for the colours of the costume. The wide and thick brush strokes are reminiscent of Courbet's workmanship. On the other hand, the white surplice enhanced with nervous brush strokes of pure colours: yellow, green, blue and red, is typical of Soutine.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume; Domenica Walter