Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Coq bleu et bouquet blanc

Details
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Coq bleu et bouquet blanc
signed 'MArc ChAgAll' (lower right)
oil and India ink on canvas
9 1/2 x 7 5/8 in. (24 x 19.4 cm.)
painted circa 1957
Provenance
Private collection, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Sale room notice
Please note this work was painted circa 1957 as stated in the printed catalogue but omitted on Christies.com.

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Lot Essay

The Comité Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.


Painted in the late 1950s, Coq bleu et bouquet blanc is one of Marc Chagall's hymns to memory, to romance, to love, and crucially, to the South of France. At this time, the artist had entered a new period of stability in his life, having married his fellow Russian, Valentina Brodsky, Vava as she was nicknamed, who was to become a vital companion for him during the post-war years. She provided a stable presence for Chagall, as well as a breath of nostalgia, recalling his home and youth in what is now Belarus but then had formed part of White Russia.

The painting comprises Chagall's favoured imagery - still life dominated by floral arrangement, the rooster in profile and the lovers overhead - set in the rich blue tonality favoured by the artist during this period: "the eternal, transcendental blue reveals man's eternal longing for peace, security, eternity. It proceeds to the metaphysical realm where faith endows images with redeeming power" (R. Doschka, Marc Chagall zum 11. Geburtstag, exh. cat., Stadthalle Balingen, 1986, p. 40).

Centred around an explosion of fresh white blooms, the rooster looks down from under the bright Côte d'Azur sun. The cock or rooster occupies a position in Chagall's personal mythology similar to that of the Minotaur in Picasso's private symbolism. In both cases the artist has projected himself into non-human form, and in this process has transformed the designated creature into a personal avatar, which the artist is then free to use as a surrogate in his paintings. Picasso's Minotaur is half-man, half-bull; Chagall's rooster possesses a head that is Janus-faced, bird on one side, and man on the other. For each artist the respective animal is an acknowledged symbol of virility, and by extension, an appropriate representative of the artists' creative abilities.

The couple depicted in the opposite corner do not have a readily apparent relationship to the cock or the still life elements, but rather they all move within the pictorial space as if in a dream. As recalled by his wife Bella in her memoirs: "we both rise up above the room and begin to fly. We want to leave through the window. Outside the blue sky is calling us...We fly over fields of flowers, shuttered houses, the roofs, the yards, the churches spread out below us" (quoted in Lumières Allumnées, Paris, 1974, pp. 258-259). While the ghost of Bella often reappeared in his pictures, an ideal love waiting for him on the other side of the veil, the impact of Vava, another voice from the old country, increasingly made itself felt in pictures that eloquently overlap and indeed reconcile these two very different layers of experience. It is in pictures such as Coq bleu et bouquet blanc that the idiom of Chagall's earlier pictures has been reinvigorated by the life and light of the South of France.

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