Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Les Offrandes
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
gouache, watercolor and brush and India ink on paper
14 ¾ x 22 1/8 in. (37.5 x 56 cm.)
Painted in 1958
Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, January 1959).
Mr. and Mrs. Monroe Geller, New York (acquired from the above, March 1959).
Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above).
Joseph and Gioconda King, New York (acquired from the above, by 1967).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, New York, 1964, p. 762, no. 990 (illustrated).
Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art and Kyoto, Museum of Modern Art, Marc Chagall, October-December 1963, p. 141, no. 206bis (illustrated).
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins, Chagall et le théatre, June-September 1967, pp. 110-111, no. 165.
West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery and School of Art, 1981 (on loan).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

In his address delivered at the inauguration on 7 July 1973--his 86th birthday--of the Musée national message biblique Marc Chagall in Nice, the artist described the meaning he found in Biblical stories: “It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all time. Ever since then, I have searched for its reflection in life and in Art. The Bible is like an echo of nature and this is the secret I have tried to convey” (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall, A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 295).
Chagall typically featured, from his earliest work onward, subjects drawn from the Jewish culture and folklore in which he was raised in his native Russian town of Vitebsk. He did not directly treat biblical themes, however, until 1930, when his dealer Ambroise Vollard, who was also a devotee and publisher of illustrated books, commissioned him to create a series of etchings for a Bible edition. Even while continuing to work on two other books for Vollard, La Fontaine’s Fables and Gogol’s Dead Souls, Chagall began to paint gouaches of biblical stories to prepare for this new project (Meyer, nos. 585-601). “I did not see the Bible, I dreamed it,” he explained in the early 1960s to Franz Meyer, then his son-in-law (quoted in F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, New York, 1964, p. 384). As seen in the present work, Chagall combines a myriad of biblical references in a fantastical way to create his own dreamscape.
During February 1931, Chagall, his wife Bella and daughter Ida toured Alexandria, Cairo and the Pyramids, and thereafter spent the greater part of their journey in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Chagall traveled to Israel three more times, in 1951, 1957 and 1969, lastly for the unveiling of a mosaic and three tapestries on Old Testament themes for the newly completed Knesset building in Jerusalem. Chagall worked on a series of monumental Bible paintings during the 1960s, seventeen of which he donated to the French state in 1966. These canvases, together with other museum loans, comprise the collection housed in the Musée national message biblique Marc Chagall in Nice, the first government-sponsored museum in France ever devoted to the work of a then living artist. “The Word is painted,” André Verdet declared. “Painted it attains an epic grandeur, often verging on the sublime, but at the same time it remains familial, grazed by fantasy and winged grace” (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., op. cit., 1996, p. 298).

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