The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
“In my mind, the four seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different stages.” –Marc Chagall
The present picture depicts a bustling summer harvest in the French countryside, utilizing numerous motifs culled from Chagall’s personal lexicon: the mother and child, the lovers in the corner, the donkey and the rooster to name a few. Chagall developed an abiding love for the beauty of the French landscape while he was painting the gouaches for Fontaine’s Fables in 1926-1927. Having lived in the Ile-de-France, the Auvergne and on the Mediterranean coast, sometimes away from Paris for weeks at a time, he found the pace of country living and indeed the people themselves very much to his liking. All these experiences were far removed from the more primitive conditions he had known growing up in Russia, where he was subject to a harsh and unrelenting tradition of anti-Semitism. "I threw myself at new themes I had never seen before in Vitebsk—the flowers in the south of France, the farm workers in Savoy, the well-fed animals. After the Revolution, the destitution and the hunger, I gave my appetite free reign. In all the fantastic things I saw, I could not forget the earth from which we come" (C. Sorlier, Marc Chagall et Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1981, p. 24).
L'été, les récoltes (Les 4 saisons) belongs to the series of gouaches illustrating the seasons that Chagall painted during 1974. That same year, The Four Seasons, a mosaic ensemble consisting of 128 separate panels, measuring 14 feet high, 10 feet wide and 70 feet long, was installed on the Chase Tower Plaza in downtown Chicago, a gift to the city from the American investor Frederick J. Prince. An artisan mosaicist completed the assembly from a model that Chagall prepared in his studio in France. Chagall had customized the Seasons theme by incorporating the Chicago skyline into some of the panels. He arrived in Chicago two weeks before the unveiling to make adjustments to the sections that included the city views, which he had depicted initially from his memories of the time he spent in the Windy City in late 1946, before returning to France from his wartime exile.