NO MEAT THIS JANUARY… A painting after Chaim Soutines’ ‘Carcasse de Boeuf’.Soutine was born near Minsk in what was then Russia in 1893, in a poor Lithuanian-Jewish area but moved to Paris in 1913 to the artist area of Montmartre where he met friend and fellow artist Modigliani.
Soutine was influenced by Rembrandt, his series of 9 paintings of beef carcasses inspired by Rembrandt's still life of the same subject, which he discovered while studying the Old Masters in the Louvre. Soutine’s paintings are diverse and sometimes off-putting. His study of the beef carcass incorporates a tale of Soutine buying a side of beef from the butchers and hanging the carcass in his studio until it decomposed, causing such a stench his neighbours informed the police about the smell!
Undeterred, Soutine injected the carcass of beef with formaldehyde so he could carry on with his painting, pouring fresh buckets of blood over the meat to keep the realism, once finished he buried the rotten meat in a deep hole (thankfully!)
Soutine portrayed the beef as split open, bearing its soul. His repeated use of food as the subject matter for his still life paintings may stem from the starving artist’s sometimes complicated relationship with food. He was once quoted as saying:
"I saw the village butcher slice the neck of a bird and drain the blood from it. I wanted to cry out, but his joyful expression caught the sound in my throat... This cry, I always feel it there. When, as I drew a crude portrait of my professor, I tried to rid myself of this cry, it was in vain. When I painted the beef carcass it was still this cry that I wanted to liberate. I have not succeeded." CHAIM SOUTINE
David Henty ‘Carcass of Beef’
Oil on Canvas
Size 60cm x 80cm