/ By Yael Segev /
For art fans, classic art is priceless, but according to Christie’s auction house, an anonymous Chinese collector was willing to pay more than $18 millions for Chaim Soutine’s” Le Petit Pâtissier”. (the Little Pastry Chef).
Soutine’s painting, dated 1927, was one of 47 masterpieces included in – Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 8 in New York achieved $158, 505, 000. Soutine’s work, “Le Petit Pâtissier”, whose pre-sale estimate was $16-22 million, raised the bar for Christie’s summer sale as well as broke the artist’s world auction record. L’homme au foulard rouge, which sold for $17, 215, 886 at Sotheby’s in 2007 reached $17.2 million.
Le Petit Pâtissier is part of a series of 6 pastry chef’s paintings in a span of almost a decade, symbolizing the artist’s transition from a life of poverty to world fame recognition, due to the support of the American art patron, Dr. Albert Barnes. The painting has been in an Important Private European Collection since 1977.
The pastry chef series present Soutine’s interest in professional figures in uniforms , preceding his he later works describing valets, bellhops and waiters. Soutine was fascinated about the individual behind the simple worker, playing with the interaction between the generalization of the uniform describing the occupation, and the clear individual character, represented by the figure’s firm position.
Brooke Lampley, Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, comments, “this sale ranks among the strongest we have hosted in this category in New York. Bidders competed head-to-head for classic Impressionist works by Monet, Sisley and Renoir, great Modernist works by Picasso, Léger and Miró, and masterpiece works by School of Paris artists Modigliani, Soutine and Chagall. In all, it was gratifying to witness a sophisticated and intelligent market at work, and see the strong collecting trends from our winter sales in London gain even more momentum here in New York.”
Another important work sold on this auction was Marc Chagall’s (1887-1985) Les trois acrobates, dated 1926, achieved $13, 003, 750 (£8, 322, 400/€9, 882, 850). This work was one of the works that Chagall had to leave behind while fleeing from Russia to Paris in 1923.
Chaim Soutine, (1893-1943)was born to a large Jewish family in a town near Minsk. In 1913 Soutine immigrated to Paris, in order to study arts at the “Ecole d’azar”. Soutine, who admired the works of Rembrandt and Czeanne, used to visit the ‘Louvre’.
The Jewish- Italian- artist Amadeo Mogilgilani introduced him the art patron Leopold Zaborski, who supported him between the years 1919-1922. During that period, Soutine has lived in Southern France and painted the local landscape.
In the twenties Soutune got back to Paris and started painting soft images of young children and Church boys. His encounter with the American collector, Dr, Barnes, who bought about a hundred of his works has changed his fortune over night.
After the Nazi invision to Paris, Soutine had to flee the city, and looked for a shelter, suffering from a bleeding ulcer. An emergency operation cost him his life.