• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1902

    Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper

    7 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 149

    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)


    Price Realised  


    Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
    signed and dated 'Marc Chagall 1956-7' (lower left)
    gouache, pastel and brush and ink on paper
    26 1/8 x 20¼ in. (66.3 x 51.4 cm.)
    Executed in 1956-1957

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

    Marc Chagall drew from the memories of his native Vitebsk and the traditions of its Hasidic community to create a highly personal lexicon. He called his symbols "the vital mark these early influences leave, as it were, on the handwriting of the artist" (quoted in J.J. Sweeney, "An Interview with Marc Chagall," Partisan Review, vol. XVI, no. 3, 1949) and he stressed that they should not be understood in terms of a decipherable pictorial text. Vendange is replete with these motifs: the embracing figures, the beasts of burden, the donkey, the bouquet, the village, the moon and the grape harvester for example. These figures and imagery do not have a readily apparent relationship to one other, but rather move within the pictorial space as if in a dream. As recalled by his wife Bella in her memoirs: "we both rise up above the room and begin to fly. We want to leave through the window. Outside the blue sky is calling us...We fly over fields of flowers, shuttered houses, the roofs, the yards, the churches spread out below us" (quoted in Lumières Allumnées, Paris, 1974, pp. 258-259).

    Chagall compared the color in a painting to musical notes calling it "the pulse of a work of art (that) goes through the eyes and remains within the soul" (quoted in F. Meyer, Chagall, Life and Work, p. 591). The prominence of blue, typical of Chagall's painting from this period, underscores the nocturnal or dreamlike quality of the present work. The vibrancy of this monochromatism is indebted to his work in leaded glass, a medium that occupied an increasingly important role in his oeuvre following his 1956 commission for the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Toute-Grace in Assy, France.


    Montgomery Gallery, San Francisco.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1993.