Soutine’s Portraits: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys
Courtauld Gallery, London, until January 21
The Courtauld is missing the point.
Its Soutine show is subtitled “Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys”, like a below-stairs Downton Abbey, disguised as the mock-creaky Parisian jeu de main of a melancholic ilustre: Soutine, darling of Roaring Twenties hostesses, set up today to look slightly out of date.
That’s balderdash. Soutine’s genius transcends bellhops, cooks, etc – it could be a bourgeois or a gentleman he is painting. Goya and Madame Bovary show us that human life in all its grotesqueness can be seen in these two social classes too. The label of their trade is irrelevant.
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