Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys

Chaim Soutrine

We like to think that all our waiting staff are as pretty as a picture so we were anxious to compare them to Chaim Soutine’s portraits of ‘Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys’ at a new exhibition at the Courthold Gallery.

Soutine was one of the leading painters in Paris during the 1920s and ‘30s and was seen by many at the time as the natural successor to Van Gogh. This major show of his work is the first time he has been exhibited in the UK for 35 years.

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In the early 1920s, Soutine became fascinated by the cooks and waiting staff of French hotels and restaurants, attired in boldly coloured uniforms. Over the next decade, these humble models sat for him in Paris and the south of France. The resulting series of portraits offer powerful images of a new social class of service personnel, who moved from aristocratic households of past centuries to the luxury hotels and restaurants that arose in the late 19th and early 20th century.

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