The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
In 1922, Marc Chagall left his native Russia for good. After a brief period spent in Berlin, the artist settled in Paris in 1923, with his wife Bella and his seven-year-old daughter Ida. As Susan Compton has noted in Marc Chagall: My Life--My Dream: Berlin and Paris, 1922-1940, "Chagall was determined to return to Paris, the artistic capital of Europe, where he had already spent four years from 1910 to 1914" (Munich, 1990, pp. 15-16). In Paris, commissions from the dealer Ambroise Vollard to illustrate Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls and the Fables of La Fontaine helped to establish Chagall's reputation among his Paris school contemporaries which include Amedeo Modigliani and Moïse Kisling. Success in the city allowed the artist to travel with his family throughout France, and "during the years up to 1930 he never missed an opportunity of going into the country. His experience of the landscape of France, with its plenitude of light and the marvelous nuances of color radiating through a fine gray mist, changed his painting" (W. Haftmann, Marc Chagall, New York, 1973, p. 22).
In the mid- to late-1920s, Chagall traveled to Normandy and Brittany, to the Pontoise of Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro, and to spa towns like Câtelguyon, where in 1927 "he met his compatriot Chaïm Soutine" (Compton, op. cit., p. 21). The present work bears the influence of the French countryside's radiant light and resplendent color. But rather than painting en plein air, as his Impressionist forerunners in the region had done, Chagall more often stayed indoors, painting the view through the frame of his window.
The window is a recurring motif in Chagall's oeuvre, both as a compositional device and a metaphorical symbol. In the present work, the window frame occupies the left side of the canvas, virtually cutting the picture in half. The eight panes of the window further break down the composition, dividing this half into eight smaller segments. That two of these panels are obscured by the blooming bouquet only heightens the tension between the interior and exterior realms that are depicted. Chagall is on the inside, looking out, and the viewer is in the privileged position of sharing his perspective. Symbolically, the window creates a fluid boundary between the real and the imaginary, the flowering present and the fading past. In this way, the town on the other side of this window can read as Vitebsk, the village of Chagall's homeland, and his memory.
This same dual function of the window can be witnessed in Chagall's earlier painting Paris, Vue de la fenêtre (fig. 1). Though executed fourteen years earlier, its composition is uncannily similar to that of the present work, with the same eight-pane window dividing up the left side of the canvas. The bouquet is present, though less dominant in the city scene than in the country picture. The parachutist floating in the sky of the 1913 painting is replaced by a tightrope walker with an umbrella in the present work. This substitution was undoubtedly influenced by Le Cirque Vollard, a suite of gouaches Chagall undertook in 1927 for the famed dealer. In both paintings, Chagall revels in walking the tightrope between the truth and a dream.
(fig. 1), Marc Chagall, Paris, Vue de la fenêtre, 1913. Coll. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.