Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Property of an Important Private Collector
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

La Chevauchée ou La Cavalcade

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
La Chevauchée ou La Cavalcade
signed and dated 'Marc Chagall 1955-6' (lower right)
oil on canvas
26 7/8 x 31 1/8 in. (68.3 x 79.2 cm.)
Painted in 1955-1956
Private collection, Paris (by 1964).
Gallery Kokaido, Tokyo.
Private collection, Tokyo (acquired from the above, circa 1985).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, New York, 1964, p. 762, no. 953 (illustrated).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Painting in Provence, once medieval Proensa, the birthplace of courtly, romantic love, Marc Chagall imagined himself in La Cavalcade as a crimson-haired lover, steadying his beloved lady, whose long yellow gown leaves her perched tenuously side-saddle on their scarlet steed. They soar up and away, ancestrally transposed over a Russian village, always the artist’s native Vitebsk. The fiery colors of their passion cast a golden aura against the darkness of night and the dim shapes of the dwellings below. Beginning with the famous Au dessus de la ville, 1917 (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris), Chagall’s couples typically levitate on their own, impassioned accord. Here, however, astride equine propulsion, the fervor of their amorous adventure becomes mythic and all-consuming.
The sheer depth and weight of paint encrusted on this canvas, applied over the span of nearly two years, attests to the artist’s identification with these lovers. “Chagall’s art, like alchemy,” Franz Meyer explained, “is always based on the principle of the dissolution of the ‘merely rational’ context of things, the breakthrough to the elemental in all its contrasts, and surmounting of these contrasts in a new living unity. In every work Chagall seeks to achieve this unity by means of color and form—to use his words, in the ‘chemistry’ of the color and the ‘psychic construction’ of the form… The whole comes alive if every element occupies the place that corresponds to its psychic radiation” (op. cit., 1964, p. 542).
During the late 1920s, as Chagall toured, lived, and worked in various picturesque regions of France, he became enamored of “that astonishing light of freedom (lumière liberté) which I had seen nowhere else… Things, nature, people, illumined with this ‘freedom of light’, seemed to be bathing in color” (B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, pp. 68 and 69). This experience of the light that had fostered the art of Impressionism became even more telling for Chagall following his return to France in 1945 from his wartime exile in America. “I was amazed to discover Claude Monet. He fulfilled my dreams, for in him I found a source of chemically pure color that proceeded from the soul… Today, for me, Monet is the Michelangelo of our time” (ibid., pp. 139 and 157).
For devotees of Russian Silver Age and early Soviet painting, Chagall’s red mount will conjure an allusion to the pre-Revolutionary portent in Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s The Bathing of the Red Horse, 1912 (State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). Shown in Revolution, the 2017 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, London, Petrov-Vodkin’s Fantasy, 1926, may well attest to a linkage of mutual respect and reciprocal influence between the two painters. In La Cavalcade, Chagall paid tribute to his erstwhile countryman, more than fifteen years following the latter’s death in 1939.

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