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

Clown et cheval bleu

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Clown et cheval bleu
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
pastel and coloured crayon on mulberry Japan paper
20 3⁄4 x 26 3⁄4 in. (52.7 x 68 cm.)
Executed in 1960 at Brandeis University, MA
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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Lot Essay

'These clowns, bareback riders and acrobats have made themselves at home in my visions. Why? Why am I so touched by their make-up and their grimaces? With them I can move towards new horizons'.
- Marc Chagall (quoted in Marc Chagall: Le Cirque, Paintings 1969-80, exh. cat., New York, 1981 n. p.).

The dazzling spectacle of the circus, with its daring performers, colourful costumes and tragicomic cast of characters, is among the most important and enduring subjects within Marc Chagall’s oeuvre, reimagined in endless variety over his lengthy career. Through his continuous and inventive study of the subject, Chagall took his place among a distinguished lineage of avant-garde artists who had focused on the circus in their work, from Edgar Degas to Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Pablo Picasso. Infusing his visions of clowns and acrobats, animals and musicians with a unique poetic lyricism, he captured the essential spirit of this captivating world in his canvases, drawings and graphic work, continuing the tradition right through the twentieth century.

Among his favourite subjects were the highly skilled moves of the female figure on horseback, known as an écuyère or equestrienne, who occupied an important place within his imagination: ‘I would like to go up to the bareback rider who has just reappeared, smiling; her dress a bouquet of flowers…,’ the artist wrote. ‘I would run after her horse to ask her how to live, how to escape from myself, from the world, whom to run to, where to go…’ (quoted in Marc Chagall: Le Cirque, Paintings 1969-80, exh. cat., New York, 1981, n. p.).

Enthralled by the pageantry of the performances, Chagall found in the circus a metaphor for life itself – through their simultaneous presentation of comedy and tragedy, melancholy and joie de vivre, these spectacles remind the viewer of the inherent paradoxes of life, the shifting whims of fate. As a consequence, Chagall sought to imbue his visions of the circus with an element of the profound, explaining: ‘I did not want to spare any of the more moving, tender feelings in a picture of a clown or a circus rider, feelings which one would experience in painting a Madonna, a Christ, a rabbi with the Torah, or a pair of lovers’ (quoted in W. Erben, Marc Chagall, New York, 1957, p. 93). During the latter years of his career, Chagall confidently married this aspect of the circus with an effusive play of colour and movement, conjuring powerfully evocative and deeply moving images which revelled in the universal appeal of this timeless subject.

The present work, Clown et cheval bleu, was executed in 1960 in the United States, while Chagall was appointed as the first Jack I. Poses artist-in-residence at Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Chagall executed a ceramic mural in the new university library on the Waltham campus.

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