Melanie, the Schoolteacher

Chaim Soutine (Lithuanian, 1893 - 1943)

circa 1922. Oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 18 1/8". 1991.001.071

Chaim Soutine painted many portraits, usually of people he did not know or knew only slightly. Some are anonymous; others are identifiable by type or uniform (pastry cooks, hotel pageboys, waiters, choir- boys). Melanie’s identity is not known, except that she was a schoolteacher. Nevertheless, she faces the viewer as an individual, composed and self-possessed, despite the exaggerations and dislocations of her facial features, hands, and other body parts. As with other portraits by Soutine, Melanie, the Schoolteacher has an elliptical composition, emphasized here by the strong red outline of the chair.

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