Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
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Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

La sirène

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
La sirène
signed and dated '945 Chagall' (lower right)
gouache, watercolour, brush and black ink on paper
25¼ x 19¼in. (64 x 50cm.)
Executed in 1945
Anon. sale, Paris, Palais Galliéra, Ader-Picard-Tajan, 3 December 1975, lot C.
Various Authors, Chagall, Peintures 1942-1945, Paris, 1947 (illustrated pl. 13).
R. Maritain, Chagall ou l'Orage Enchanté, Geneva, 1948 (illustrated p. 167).
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, Life and Work, New York, 1957, no. 767 (illustrated).
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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This work will be sold with a photo-certificate from the Comité Chagall, confirming its authenticity.

La Sirène was executed by Chagall in the last months of 1945, at the end of his American exile. In the winter of 1945-46, he bought a small house at High Falls, near Rosendale, in the northern part of New York State. Living in an austere timber cottage, isolated in a little valley surrounded by woods, still mourning the loss of Bella who had died suddenly in 1944, Chagall executed a cycle of gouaches that, according to F. Meyer 'count among the most marvelous works he produced in America' (op. cit., p. 478). They illustrate the classic of medieval Arabic literature, The 1001 Nights, and form the basis for the lithographs commissioned by the publisher Kurt Wolff, Chagall's first important book with original prints to be published since the Twenties. The original gouaches for these prints are very impressive, and La Siréne is undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the group. Imbued with the oriental motifs which were already the trademark of Chagall's previous project, the designs for Stravinsky's Firebird, the work glows with a magic inner light, conveying all the charms of Sheherazade's fairy-tale narratives. Nothing more than Chagall's inexhaustible creative imagination could match the mad flux of this epic storyteller: the artist's reality, always in movement and in a state of flux, is the visual translation of her everlasting stories. As F. Meyer wrote: 'The color is the major factor in this endless metamorphosis. All is now immersed in its tender depths, shot through with ecstatic flames, all is encompassed by its vast, flowing movement; all is pervaded by its delicate breath and heavy fragrance' (op. cit., p. 478).

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