Audio: Marc Chagall's Paysan allongé
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Paysan allongé

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Paysan allongé
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
gouache and pastel on Japan paper
30 x 22 3/8 in. (76.2 x 56.9 cm.)
Executed in 1964
Estate of the artist, and thence by descent.
Tobishima Corporation, Tokyo.
Private collection, Tokyo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Chagall, Gouaches 1957-1968, April 1968, no. 12 (illustrated).
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Jessica Brook
Jessica Brook

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate from the Comité Chagall.

Executed in 1964, the same year that Marc Chagall adorned the ceiling of the Paris Opera with joyful scenes of French culture, Paysan allongé is a rich and sumptuous work, brimming with many of Chagall's most favoured and iconic motifs. At the centre of this densely filled composition, a verdant bouquet of red roses emerges from the figure of a reclining peasant who is himself holding a small bouquet of roses, as he gazes up at the viewer with a happy smile. This upper part of the work is a joyful scene of characters and animals and of dancing and music, with rooftops in the distance. Here, the panoply of imagery drawn from Chagall's personal symbolic lexicon is masterfully--and characteristically--combined with folkloric and religious iconography. Chagall executed this work in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the South of France where he had settled in 1950 and where he had expanded his artistic repertoire to include the production of ceramics and stained glass. This had reinvigorated his approach to his art, and the lush materiality of Le paysan allongé with its vibrant, glimmering passages of colour seem to reflect his experiences of working in these media, particularly the vivid blues and reds of his stained glass.

The motifs that populate this dream-like world contain a wealth of visual references and meanings. The reclining man at the bottom of the composition, for instance, appears in earlier paintings by Chagall, most notably in his celebrated Le poète allongé of 1915, now in the collection of the Tate Gallery, London, REF N05390. In that work, Chagall painted himself in the role of the poet and here it is as if he is identifying himself with the peasant who is portrayed as so intimately connected with nature and rural life. Rural life is reflected also in the many rustic dwellings, which bear a striking resemblance to those of his native Vitebsk, now in Belarus but in Chagall's childhood part of the Russian Empire. 'The fact that I made use of cows, milkmaids, roosters and provincial Russian architecture as my source forms is because they are part of the environment from which I spring and which undoubtedly left the deepest impression on my visual memory of the experiences I have', Chagall explained (Chagall, quoted in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 83).

Le paysan allongé carries within its layered and overlapping forms and sumptuous colouring a sense and feel of fusion: the fusion of different traditions and beliefs, of different themes and different places and, indeed, of different media.

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