• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1996

    Impressionist And Modern Works On Paper

    7 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 129

    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

    Les Amoureux

    Price Realised  


    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
    Les Amoureux
    stamped with signature 'Marc Chagall' (lower left)
    gouache, watercolor, pastel and pencil on paper
    30 1/8 x 22 3/8 in. (76.5 x 56.8 cm.)

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    The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    Having lived in Paris for several years, Chagall first moved to the Côte d'Azur in 1926, where the vegetation and the light were a revelation to him. He traveled south with his wife Bella in the spring, stopping first at Mourillon, a small fishing village on the Mediterranean, which is now incorporated within the sprawling port of Toulon. They remained there until the summer, staying with Georges Duthuit and his wife Marguerite, the daughter of Henri Matisse, in a small pension known as La Reserve that overlooked the sea.

    This was the artist's first experience of the Mediterranean. "Chagall was overwhelmed by the brightness of the sea. His Breton pictures were already permeated by overbright, chalky-cool reflections. But the Mediterranean affected him differently, as a triumphal song of color in the vast, luminous space. He was also thrilled by the bunches of flowers Bella brought home from the market day after day. Their dense, pure, bright colors served him as a link with the landscape. In many of his pictures a bouquet is silhouetted against the sea on a chair, a small table, or the windowsill. Delicate panicles, campanulas, and the great white calyces of arum lilies stand out against the thick foliage, bearers of light that also reflect the brightness of the distance. In these pictures the sea itself is indicated by a few sparse motifs-- bits of nearby coastline, a distant promontory, sailboats; once the whole landscape of the coast from Mourillon toward the east with all the houses, gardens and a terrace overlooking the sea" (F. Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, London, 1964, p. 348).

    While staying in Mourillon, Chagall visited Nice on the Côte d'Azur. This was his first view of the area where he would eventually make his home after the Second World War. Chagall lived in Vence from 1949 to 1966 in a house called "Les Collines" on the slope of the Baou des Blancs. After the war the Côte d'Azur had become a thriving artistic center. "Chagall's new sojourn in the south exerted a decisive influence on his art. The light, the vegetation, the rhythm of life all contributed to the rise of a more relaxed, airy sensuous style in which the magic of color dominates more and more with the passing of the years. At Vence he witnessed the daily miracle of growth and blossoming in the mild, strong all-pervading light--an experience in which earth and matter had their place." (ibid., p. 519)

    The present work is typical of works executed in the South of France throughout Chagall's life. Two sets of lovers are wreathed in flowers below a luminous sky and a forest of verdant tropical trees. Executed countless years after his first visit, the bright, transluscent colors seen in the present work impart pure radiance.


    Estate of the artist.