This intimate portrait was composed by the Bulgarian-born French Expressionist painter Jules Pascin. Known as the “Prince of Montparnasse,” Pascin made a name for himself throughout both Europe and the United States as a painter of woman, often while nude or in various stages of undress. Undoubtedly influenced by the French Impressionists, particularly Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pascin developed a highly gestural style that is uniquely his own. Femme aux souliers noir displays the unique qualities that made his work so groundbreaking during his lifetime.
Though he was born in Bulgaria and became a United States citizen in 1920, Pascin spent most of his career is Paris, and he is regarded today as a French painter. It was on his return to France from the United States in 1923 when his so-called nacrée, or “pearly,” style began to emerge in his work; the present painting dates to this same period. In it, one can see how Pascin adopted a more fluid touch in his paint application, working with almost dry brushes. The technique allowed him to make his tones more transparent, lending a ghostly, immaterial quality to his figures. This portrait perfectly embodies the atmospheric qualities of his nacrée period. Less sensual than his nudes, Femme aux souliers noir nevertheless displays the earthy softness and intimate charm that made the artist so successful.
Born in Vidin, Bulgaria in 1885, Pascin grew up part of an affluent Sephardic Jewish family. He attended university in Austria and Germany, though he eventually moved to Paris in 1905. Encountering the Parisian Modernist movement changed the trajectory of his career, and he soon began exhibiting his prints and drawings at the Salon des Indépendants. He achieved a great deal of success and fame early in his career, particularly in North America, so much so that he chose to become a United States citizen in 1920. Tragically, however, he fell prey to depression and alcoholism, and committed suicide in 1930 at the age of 45. Today, his work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Louvre (Paris), the Art Institute of Chicago and others.
Canvas: 24″ high x 18″ wide
Frame: 33 1/4″ high x 27″ wide