MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
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MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Ecuyère sur cheval vert au cirque

Details
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Ecuyère sur cheval vert au cirque
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
gouache, pastel, India ink, coloured ink, coloured crayon and pencil on paper
25 1⁄2 x 20 1⁄8 in. (65 x 51.2 cm.)
Executed in 1979-1980
Provenance
The estate of the artist, and thence by descent.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Throughout his life, the circus and it’s colourful cast of characters occupied an important place within Marc Chagall’s artistic imagination. ‘These clowns, bareback riders and acrobats have made themselves at home in my visions,’ he wrote. ‘With them I can move toward a new horizons. Lured by their colours and make-up, I can dream of painting new psychic distortions’ (quoted in Marc Chagall: Le Cirque, Paintings 1969-80, exh. cat., New York, 1981 n. p.). Executed in a dazzling play of colour, Ecuyère sur cheval vert au cirque is a vibrant celebration of this theme, with every element – from the acrobats who soar through the air, to the clowns and musicians in the ring, and the stands brimming with patrons and spectators – capturing the enchanting atmosphere of the performance. Including a variety of different acts simultaneously on stage, their actions and activities overlapping one another in a complex dance, Chagall captures the heady, festival atmosphere of the circus, its pageantry and spectacle, which had so charmed him during his visits to the ‘Big Top.’

All eyes in the tent appear to be centred on the larger-than-life equestrienne, her body perfectly poised as she balances on one leg atop her trusty stead. The daring moves of the ecuyère were a rich source of inspiration for a number of avant-garde artists over the years, most notably Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, both of whom depicted various stages of the fast-paced act in their depictions of the circus.

In the present work, Chagall continues this tradition, allowing the ecuyère to dominate the scene, her lithe body, colourful costume and elegant moves drawing the viewer in to the very heart of the performance. Writing on Chagall’s circus pictures, Louis Aragon described the magnetic presence of the equestrienne in these scenes: ‘All seem to be assembled here only for the glory of the bareback rider, her scintillation, the incitement of her revolutions… We are caught up in the movement of the woman circling the ring, she whose beauty is the beauty of danger, waiting for her to come around again, until all the men watching with bated breath reach the point of being jealous of the horse’ (‘Thirty Paintings by Marc Chagall,’ in Marc Chagall: Recent Paintings, 1966-1968, exh. cat., New York, 1968, n.p.).

Using a mixture of gouache, pastel, ink, crayon and pencil, Chagall achieves a highly sophisticated layering of colour in Ecuyère sur cheval vert au cirque, weaving together different media to create a richly textured surface that shifts and alters under our gaze. Passages of translucent colour suggest the play of electric lights as they dance around the space, transforming the arena with their illuminations, while the figures of the circus performers are rendered using vibrant opaque tones, their costumes a lively play of jewel-like hues. The ring itself is delineated in a dense network of overlapping strands of colour, which give way to loose meandering lines of pencil, each looping whorl and vigorous zig-zag or hatching recording the path of the artist’s hand as it moved energetically across the page. Demonstrating a deft understanding of the inherent character of each of his materials, Chagall creates a work of intriguing counterpoint and contrast.

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