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


Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
signed 'Chagall' (on the artist's mount)
gouache on paper
7 7/8 x 11¼ in. (19.9 x 28.5 cm.)
Executed in 1911
F. Mutzenbacher, Germany.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 14 April 1970, lot 49.
Gabriel Sabet, Geneva, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1998, lot 4.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
K. Umansky, Neue Kunst in Russland 1914-1919, Potsdam and Munich, 1920.
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, London, 1964, no. 104, p. 747 (illustrated).
London, Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, A Slap in the Face: Futurists in Russia, March - June 2007 (illustrated p. 55); this exhibition later travelled to Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle University, June - August 2007.
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Lot Essay

The Comité Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Painted in 1911 during Chagall's second year in Paris, L'accueil represents a synthesis of his earlier interest in folkloric subject matter with a new type of stylistic innovation informed by the radical reassessment of form and colour he observed in the work of the Cubists and Fauves at the Salon des Indépendants in 1910.

Having travelled to Paris at the age of twenty, Chagall soon took a studio in bohemian Montparnasse in a legendary building known as La Rûche, home to many of the most innovative painters and poets of the day, including Chaïm Soutine, Alexander Archipenko, Amedeo Modigliani, Ossip Zadkine and Fernand Léger. Immersed in this atmosphere of rich cultural exchange, Chagall entered a phase of intense creativity and imaginative growth. It was during this time that the young painter found the means to fully articulate his wholly unique form of painterly expression, one that rejected naturalism in order to create dreamlike narratives in which the impossible becomes possible. Executed in gouache, a medium Chagall discovered in Paris, L'accueil represents the familiar landscape and people of his hometown in Vitebsk, transfigured by the artist to create an impression of poetical reverie. In this painting scale, proportion, volume, and even gravity are liberated from their traditional conventions to fuse everyday life with the lyrical world of dreams.

By giving free reign to his memories, nostalgic fantasies, and the mysterious and fantastic ancient legends of his Hasidic upbringing, Chagall gave life to the realm of imagination, creating an art that Apollinaire would define as 'supernatural' and that Breton would recognise as a major influence on the future development of the Surrealist movement: 'The two movements - Dada and Surrealism - that were to bring about the fusion of poetry and the plastic arts were seriously at fault, in the early years, in giving insufficient credit to Chagall. The poets themselves owed a great deal to him - Apollinaire, whom he inspired to write what is perhaps the freest poem of the century, A travers l'Europe; the Cendrars of Prose du Transsibérien; Makovsky's and Eissenin's moods of towering passion evoke his presence... His explosion of lyricism dates form 1911, the moment when, under his sole impulse, metaphor made its triumphal entry into modern painting. Chagall employed this metaphor to achieve the final overwhelming of spatial planes initiated long since Rimbaud and at the same time to liberate he object from the laws of gravity and to abolish the barriers surrounding the elements of and the animal and vegetable kingdoms' (A. Breton, Surrealism and Painting, New York, 1945, pp. 63-64).

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