The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
'In [love] lies the true Art,' Chagall explained, 'from it comes my technique, my religion... All other things are a sheer waste of energy, waste of means, waste of life, of time... Art, without Love - whether we are ashamed or not to use that well-known word - such a plastic art would open the wrong door.'
Chagall, quoted in, J. Baal-Teshuva, Chagall: A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 179.
First explored by Chagall in the early 1920s as a romantic extension to the symbolic vocabulary of the paintings depicting himself with his beloved wife Bella, the vase of flowers became a perennial theme in Chagall's art. During his marriage to Bella, the artist executed countless works of this genre to express his exuberance over the blissful state of their union. In the years following the passing of his beloved muse and throughout his second marriage to Valentina 'Vava' Brodsky beginning in 1952, this genre continued to provide a means for the painter to express sentiments of contentment as well as reflecting upon the ephemeral nature of life.
The canvases and works on paper were nearly always marked by a wild proliferation of vivid blooms emanating from a central basket or vase, as seen in the Roses et mimosas (Nice et la Côte d'Azur). The explosion of colour that so often characterises his bouquets allows Chagall to manipulate dramatic contrasts and subtle harmonies with aplomb, so typical of the richness of his palette. Here, the densely-painted surface is articulated in primary colours, providing an elementary symbolism of the sun, the roses and the landscape. The lusciousness of the surface lends the bouquet a bursting sense of vibrancy, the flowers in full bloom, fecund with scent. The surface is alive with expressive gesture and colour, a tactile and visceral painting that is felt as it is seen.
'It was in Toulon in 1924, Chagall recalls, that the charm of French flowers first struck him. He claims he had not known bouquets of flowers in Russia - or at least they were not so common as in France... He said that when he painted a bouquet it was as if he was painting a landscape. It represented France to him. But the discovery was also a logical one in the light of the change taking place in his vision and pictorial interests. Flowers, especially mixed bouquets of tiny blossoms, offer a variety of delicate colour combinations and a fund of texture contrasts which were beginning to hold Chagall's attention more and more' (J.J. Sweeney, Marc Chagall, New York, 1946, p. 56).
Emerging from the background are some other familiar elements of Chagall's aesthetic dream-like repertory; the sun, the figure of the woman holding another bouquet - most often the bride - as can be seen to the right of Roses et mimosas (Nice et la Côte d'Azur) and the landscape, often referencing the past in his native town of Vitebsk, yet this time featuring the coastline of his present life on the French Riviera where he had lived since 1948, settling in the town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The figure of the fish, as with other animals depicted throughout his œuvre, was a poignant one for the artist with its own symbolism. As Franz Meyer observes:
'Nearly every one of these gouaches is dominated by a basic colour. This is often blue, as in Fishes at Saint-Jean, a work of majestic mystery. The yellow of the flowers in this sky bursts forth from the ground colour like a prairie fire, and the red fish are like shafts of sombre light transmitted by a power from the depths. The picture is a song in praise of day and night, sun and moon, sea and sky. But man too finds himself in this vision and experience of nature and quiets the beating of his heart. The fundamental psychic forces that Chagall represents time and time again receive a still more sensuously immediate expression in the simple dialogue of sea and sky. The composition also is simplified and offers scope for a broader rhythm. At the same time the colour that creates the entire picture space or gives it into separate spatial zones is still denser and more radiant, so that these gouaches seem cut out of gigantic gems' (Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, New York, 1963, pp. 495 & 497).
A vibrant tapestry of colour, symbolism and sensual form, Roses et mimosas (Nice et la Côte d'Azur) presents a large and expressive testament to the artist’s sense of joy, romantic love and beauty at the height of his creative maturity.