The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
In the summer of 1942, Chagall travelled to Mexico with his wife Bella in response to a commission he had received to design the scenery and costumes for the American Ballet Theater company's production of Aleko. The Chagalls had arrived in New York the previous summer and it was there where all of the preliminary arrangements for the production were made. Léonide Massine was brought on to oversee the choreography and Chagall found a valuable kinship with his fellow Russian. They would meet almost daily for several months in the lead up to the production, which, due to technical reasons, was scheduled to premiere in Mexico City rather than New York.
Once the Chagalls arrived in Mexico City, they were each consumed with working on the final touches of the production - Chagall worked on the backdrops while Bella took part by supervising the costume production. In spite of their busy schedules, the Chagalls were able to sneak moments away to explore the city and surrounding villages and countryside. It was during those brief interludes that Chagall was able to complete a number of sketches that would inform a series of gouaches, either completed in Mexico, or upon their return to New York in 1943, referred to by Franz Meyer as the ‘Mexican gouaches’ (see F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, Life and Work, London, 1964, nos. 707-716), "These works reveal his deep sympathy with Mexico and the Mexicans. He felt attracted to their ardent, generous nature and was pleased at their feeling for art and their response to his own work. It is these people that we see in the gouaches." (ibid., p. 440).
The palette of Serenade Mexicaine is evocative of the intense fiery colours characteristic of Latin American culture, which had struck Chagall when he travelled to Mexico, and would influence his strong use of colour in subsequent years. The subject matter of the young girls carrying fruit in baskets on their heads, while serenaded by a Mexican troubadour, brings to mind a market day in one of the local villages the artist visited with Bella.