Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Property from a Private Collection
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Paysage à Peyra-Cava ou Les amoureux à Peyra-Cava

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Paysage à Peyra-Cava ou Les amoureux à Peyra-Cava
signed and dated 'Marc Chagall 1931' (lower left)
oil on canvas
28 ¼ x 23 1/8 in. (72 x 58.8 cm.)
Painted in 1930-1931
Simon and Tekla Bond, New York (by 1969).
Leo P. Bond, New York (by descent from the above, 2001).
Bequest from the above to the present owner, 3 January 2011.
Y. Taillandier, "Pourquoi tant d'horloge et de poissons volants?" in XX°siècle, June 1970, n°34, p. 33 (illustrated).
(possibly) Kunsthalle Basel, Marc Chagall, November-December 1933, p. 19, no. 75 or 76.
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Hommage à Marc Chagall, December 1969-March 1970, p. 6, no. 75 (illustrated, p. 103).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

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

High above this landscape of the Alpes-Maritimes, as seen from the commune of Peyra-Cava in Provence, Marc Chagall posited his famous flying couple—the artist himself and his wife Bella, locked in an aerial embrace—which he first featured in Au-dessus de la ville, a bird’s-eye view of his native Vitebsk in Russia, painted some dozen years earlier. Since September 1923, the Chagalls had been residing in Paris, and were happily touring the countryside of their newly adopted land. “I want an art of the earth, not only of the head,” the artist declared (quoted in Marc Chagall, exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2003, p. 40). Living for several months in Chambon, Auvergne, provided authentically rustic, folkloric ambience for the gouache illustrations that Ambroise Vollard had commissioned for an edition of La Fontaine’s Fables, which Chagall completed in 1926.
Chagall, Bella, and their daughter Ida traveled from Normandy and Brittany, south to Céret, once the fabled “Mecca of Cubism,” near the Spanish border, and along the Mediterranean coast. During the winter of 1927-1928 they visited Chamonix and stayed in several villages in the Savoy. Chagall conceived a special fondness for mountainous landscapes—so unlike the flat steppes of Russia, but at the highest elevations and in winter nostalgically deep in snow. During the summer and autumn of 1930 he spent a few weeks on the Mediterranean around Nice, then headed north to Peyra-Cava.
France became for Chagall the land of lumière-liberté–“the light of freedom which I had seen nowhere else,” he wrote in 1943. “And this light, reborn in art, passed easily onto the canvases of the great French masters… Only this lumière-liberté can give birth to such sparkling canvases, where technical revolutions are just as natural as the language, the gesture, the work of the passerby in the street” (quoted in, B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 68).
In his Savoy and Peyra-Cava landscapes Chagall turned to a favorite compositional device that he had developed in various Russian and Paris canvases—which Matisse had been employing during the 1920s in his Nice interiors—the secondary “frame” of the open window, as a magical threshold between the expansive grandeur of the exterior natural world and the serene intimacy of the artist’s inner, domestic environment. While treating landscape motifs in a naturalist manner, Chagall typically injected incongruous elements that mingle realism with memory, fantasy, and dream. “Chagall does not descend into his landscape,” Lionello Venturi observed, “He views it from afar, as if spellbound, dreaming of love with open eyes” (quoted in F. Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, New York, 1963, p. 381).

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