Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Nu rose ou Amoureux en rose

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Nu rose ou Amoureux en rose
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31 7/8 x 25 5/8 in. (81.1 x 65 cm.)
Painted in 1949
Jean Planque, Switzerland.
Paul Kantor Gallery, Beverly Hills (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, 25 March 1966.
A. Maeght, ed., "Chagall" in Derrière le miroir, Paris, 3 April 1950, vols. 27-28, no. 11 (titled Nu rose).
Sale room notice
Please note that the Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Lot Essay

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

"For me, you are-my life," Chagall wrote encouragingly to his young paramour, Virginia Haggard, three days after their son David was born in 1946. "I can't live anymore without you. Fate wanted me to meet you after dear Bella (whom you love too)" (quoted in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall and His Times: A Documentary Narrative, Stanford, 2004, p. 588).
Writing from Paris, Chagall had timed his first return to Europe after the war purposefully to be absent at the birth of his son, the undeniable proof of a relationship he was not yet prepared to admit. Virginia, the Paris-born cosmopolitan daughter of a British diplomat, had entered his life in 1945 as his housekeeper, rebellious in youth and unhappy in her marriage. Each of them had felt "starved," as Virginia later recalled, but they found new love together, unexpectedly for Chagall only nine months after the death of his beloved wife, Bella (op. cit., p. 565). The pleasant reality of daily domestic intimacy, however, could never upstage the power of the mythic eternal moment that Chagall had created around the memory of Bella, nor diminish the intensity of imagery for which she remained the principal source. Nevertheless, "in his imagination," Benjamin Harshav has explained, "Chagall conflated the two images of Virginia and Bella, the sensual and the spiritual," a psychic union epitomized in his poem, "The Painting":
My departed love, my new-found love, listen to me. I move over your soul, over your belly-I drink the calm of your [young] years. (in op. cit., p. 567)
"There can be no question," Sidney Alexander has written, "that black-haired Bella was subtly becoming metamorphosed into taller, longer-necked, russet-haired Virginia" (in Marc Chagall, A Biography, New York, 1978, p. 388). By the end of the decade, Bella made only occasional, ectoplasmic appearances in his paintings, almost always in bridal veil. Chagall's brides were, according to Virginia, "always Bella," but the nudes were generally Virginia (in ibid., p. 386).
Painted in 1949, Nu rose ou Amoureux en rose combines two distinct elements in Chagall's personal iconography that came to encapsulate his idea of romantic love: the dream-like couple and the rich bouquet of flowers. Both themes had occupied Chagall throughout his career, and the latter swiftly became an extension to the symbolic vocabulary of the paintings depicting himself with his beloved. Amoureux en rose is a pictorial representation of Chagall's belief in the idea of love, which for him was both motivation and motif. As he explained in 1958: "In it lies the true Art: from it comes my technique, my religion... All other things are a sheer waste of energy, waste of means, waste of life, of time... Art, without Love - whether we are ashamed or not to use that well-known word - such a plastic art would open the wrong door" (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall: A Retrospective, Westport, 1995, p. 179).

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