Inspired by classic painting in the European tradition, exemplified by the works of Rembrandt, Chardin and Courbet, Soutine developed an individual style more concerned with shape, color, and texture over representation, which served as a bridge between more traditional approaches and the developing form of Abstract Expressionism.
Soutine was born Chaim-Iche Solomonovich Sutin, in Smilavichy in the Minsk Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Belarus). He was Jewish and the tenth of eleven children born to parents Zalman (also reported as Solomon and Salomon) Moiseevich Sutin (1858-1932) and Sarah Sutina (née Khlamovna) (died in 1938). From 1910 to 1913 he studied in Vilnius at a small art academy. In 1913, with his friends Pinchus Kremegne and Michel Kikoine, he emigrated to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts under Fernand Cormon. He soon developed a highly personal vision and painting technique.