Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Featured picture: L'idiot by Chaim Soutine

My recent post Ten Years Younger featured my 'inner idiot'. Searching for an image for that post I came across a painting by the French impressionist artist, Chaim Soutine. The painting is titled L'idiot and depicts a young boy sat on a dining chair dressed in, what looks like, a sailor suit. The child has much bigger hands than might be expected and his head and ears don't look in proportion to the rest of his body. My guess is that this poor child had a learning disability. I found the brutally titled picture haunting and disturbing, as I wondered about the circumstances of the child's sitting for the portrait; he looks well dressed and, perhaps, was cared for by well off parents, though Sebastian Faulks' depiction of one of the central character's mental illness in his novel Human Traces, set in late 19th century France makes me wonder.

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