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Carcass of Beef

Public Domain

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Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Chaïm Soutine

Russian, born Belarus, active in France, 1893-1943

Carcass of Beef, ca. 1925

oil on canvas

support: 55 1/4 x 42 3/8 inches (140.34 x 107.63 cm); framed: 61 1/2 x 48 3/4 x 4 1/2 inches (156.21 x 123.83 x 11.43 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1939

RCA1939:13.2

More Details

Inscriptions

signature, undated / lower left / Soutine

Provenance

the artist;
to collection Paul Guillaume;
to Domenica Walter-Guillaume;
sold to the Albright Art Gallery, August 28, 1939

Class

Paintings (visual works)

Work Type

Oil painting (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Inspired by Rembrandt van Rijn’s painting Slaughtered Ox, 1655, Chaïm Soutine began his series of carcass paintings during the 1910s. Although the subject had been treated by other modern artists, among them Honoré Daumier  and Max Slevogt (German, 1868–1932), Soutine gave it a particularly emotive interpretation, impetuously covering his canvases with intense, saturated colors. Soutine was known as an eccentric personality. While living in La Ruche, an artists’ residence in Paris, Soutine made friends with the employees of slaughterhouses and often painted the cuts of meat he acquired from them. In 1925, when he moved to a larger studio, Soutine procured an entire steer carcass and hauled it back to the space. Over several weeks, he executed at least four similar canvases as well as sketches and smaller paintings; all the while the meat decomposed. It has been said that when the colors of the flesh were masked by an accumulation of flies, he paid a model to sit beside the carcass and fan them away. The process of rendering this subject had intense psychological ramifications for Soutine, who was raised in a household that strictly adhered to kosher proscriptions. To his friend and biographer Emil Szittya (French, born Hungary, 1886–1964), Soutine remarked, "Once I saw a butcher cut the neck of a goose and drain the blood out of it. I wanted to cry out but his joyful expression made the cry stick in my throat. . . . This cry, I always feel it. . . . When I painted the beef carcass, it was still this cry that I wanted to liberate."

Label from Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City, July 5–September 14, 2014

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