MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
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MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Bestiaire et musique

Details
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Bestiaire et musique
stamped with the signature 'Marc Chagall' (lower right); signed 'Marc Chagall' (on the reverse)
oil, wax crayon and India ink on canvas
55 1/4 x 61 1/8 in. (140.2 x 155.5 cm.)
Executed in 1969
Provenance
The artist, until at least 1977.
Private Collection, Germany, by 1989.
Private Collection, Japan.
Acquired from the above; sale, Seoul Auction, Hong Kong, 4 October 2010, lot 30.
Private Collection, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Exhibited
Tokyo, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Marc Chagall, August - September 1976, no. 39, n.p. (illustrated n.p.); this exhibition later travelled to Kyoto, Musée Municipal, September - October 1976; Nagoya, Musée Préfectoral d'Aichi, November 1976; and Kumamoto, Musée Prefectoral, November - December 1976.
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Marc Chagall, Peintures récentes 1967-1977, October 1977 - January 1978, no. 12, n.p. (illustrated n.p.).
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, L'oeuvre ultime de Cezanne à Dubuffet, July - October 1989, no. 43, pp. 108 (illustrated p. 109).
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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Lot Essay

A nocturnal scene of dancing and revelry, animals, musicians, lovers, and floating figures, Bestiaire et musique of 1969 immerses the viewer in the fantastical, dreamlike world of Marc Chagall. Layer after layer of detail unfolds in this large-scale, richly textured, and exuberantly coloured work. Like the hazy realm of memory, or the flickering, fast moving images of a film, the painting is particularly notable for its intensity of colour. Setting the scene at night, Chagall has used deep blue and black tones which make the brighter yellows, reds, greens and blues dazzle and gleam, as if light is shining through a stained glass window into the night sky. With his various experiments with different media – including stained glass windows and ceramics – Chagall had developed a new understanding of the potentials and power of colour at this time. Bringing together many of the defining themes and motifs of his career, namely the circus and music, the artist has combined these with a novel palette to create a work of striking visual power.

Throughout the 1960s, the south of France was becoming ever more popular with tourists. Like his contemporary Pablo Picasso, who had been forced to move from his villa La Californie due to encroaching buildings, so too Chagall became increasingly concerned by the houses that were starting to surround and overlook his idyllic Provençal home, Les Collines. In 1966, Chagall and his wife Vava decided to move from Vence to nearby St. Paul de Vence, where they built a new house, La Colline.

With a new and more accessible ground floor studio, this move saw Chagall become reimmersed in the practice of easel painting once again. Up until this point, the artist had been occupied by a number of large scale public commissions in a variety of media, from tapestries to mosaics, stained glass windows to grand murals. In his new studio and working on canvas once more, Chagall harnessed the diverse and varied inspiration he had gleaned from his remarkable artistic pluralism of the previous years, using this to create some of the most radical and innovative paintings of his late career, as he pushed his creative vision in new directions.

Since the unveiling of his Jerusalem Windows in Paris in 1961, Chagall had been hailed as the most influential designer of stained-glass windows of the twentieth century and received many large-scale public commissions for architectural decorations both in Europe and America. Working in stained glass was, for Chagall, like painting in light; ‘the light is the light of the sky, it is that light that gives the colour!’ (quoted in C. Sorlier, ed., Chagall by Chagall, New York, 1979, p. 212).

It was in the 1960s and 1970s, using the lessons he had learned while working in glass, that colour became an essential element in Chagall’s work in its own right, achieving its full radiance and plenitude in his paintings of this time, particularly in works such as Bestiaire et musique. Here, the interplay between the enigmatic nocturnal hues that suffuse much of the surface and the incandescent bursts of yellow, red, and emerald greens echo the unique colour combinations and intense luminosity that marked many of Chagall’s projects in stained glass. The artist further accentuated the chromatic power of the pigment through the rich textures of his paint surface, building this frenzied, highly detailed scene with layer upon layer of vibrant colour, applied with oil paint, as well as wax crayon and India ink. In this way, he created a novel visual drama that captures the eye and draws the viewer into the heady world of his imagination.

In addition to his pioneering stained glass windows, in the 1950s, Chagall had also become interested in ceramics. After settling in the south of France in 1949, he began to experiment with this medium, often modelling the clay himself, before painting the pieces with his own distinctive style. The incised lines and luminous unmixed hues in the present work reflect the techniques that the artist had employed in his ceramic making.

 Embracing a variety of these different style and techniques, in the late 1960s, Chagall continually pushed the boundaries of his art making. As a result, his painting remained at the forefront of the avant-garde, sharing a number of preoccupations with contemporary art of this period. As Jackie Wullschlager has written, these works ‘demonstrate Chagall’s ability to respond to abstraction, to the fragmentation of the image, and to the disintegration of fixed disciplines that were the characteristics of art in the 1960s’ (Chagall: Love and Exile, London, 2008, p. 509).

Bestiaire et musique was chosen by the artist to be shown in his landmark 1977 exhibition, Marc Chagall, Peintures récentes 1967-1977, held in the hallowed galleries of the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Held in honour of the artist’s 90th birthday, this show featured predominantly works from the artist’s own collection, thereby providing audiences the opportunity to regard the artist’s latest work for the first time.

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