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    Sale 7703

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 163

    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

    'La Reine de Saba': a preparatory carnet

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    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
    'La Reine de Saba': a preparatory carnet
    inscribed in Russian 'This album contains at its beginning 10 or 11 drawings for the "Reine de Saba"' (on the front cover, upper left); inscribed '10 Dessins Pour la reine de Saba' (inside cover); inscribed 'Dessin pour Rein de Saba' (on the reverse of the first sheet); inscribed 'R de Saba' (in various places on the second through tenth sheet)'
    various media including pen and ink, wash, ball point pen, wax crayon, watercolour, and pencil
    10½ x 7½ in. (27 x 19 cm.)
    Fifty sketches, of which two have a drawn verso, all bound in a carnet.
    Executed circa 1970-1975


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    The carnet is sold with a photo-certificate from the Comité Marc Chagall.

    The present carnet of drawings is largely related to Chagall's visual interpretation of the Bible, which became a major preoccupation for the artist from 1930 onwards. It was during the same year that Ambroise Vollard commissioned Chagall to create images to accompany a publication of the Old Testament, which he would complete over a twenty-five year period. The Bible project would continue to be a direct source of motifs and inspiration for the rest of Chagall's life, enabling him to express a sense of spirituality and a connectedness to his own Jewish identity. 'Since my earliest childhood I have been captivated by the Bible', he stated, 'It has always seemed to me the greatest source of poetry of all time. Ever since then I have sought its reflection in life and art. The Bible is like an echo of nature, and this is the secret I have tried to convey' (cited in J. Baal-Teshuva, Chagall, Cologne, 1998, pp. 222-223).

    A significant number of these drawings is dedicated to the meeting between Solomon, the wise King of Israel, and the Queen of Sheba, a story to which Chagall has bought a unique sense of involvement and vividness and that has been interpreted by some of the greatest artists in the Western canon. Many of these sketches share a similar composition to that which was used in Chagall's final etching for the Bible, indicating his enduring interest in religious themes, which would eventuate in his gift of religious paintings to the Musée national du Message Biblique Marc Chagall in Nice, in 1973, and his stained glass windows for the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, completed in 1974. Included with these Biblical drawings are a group of colourful works of a secular nature that are equally fantastical and lyrical in their execution. These studies draw from the peculiar lexicon of personal symbols that recur throughout Chagall's oeuvre, including the buildings of Paris and Vitebsk, benign animals, clocks, female nudes and the artist himself in front of an easel, which converge to celebrate his role as the creator of his own extraordinary and mythical world.

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