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)

David et Bethsabée

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
David et Bethsabée
signed and dated 'Marc Chagall 1951-2.' (lower centre)
gouache, pastel, brush and India ink and wash on paper
18 7⁄8 x 17 1⁄4 in. (48.2 x 43.8 cm.)
Executed in 1951-1952
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

‘In the East I found the Bible and part of my own being...I did not see the Bible [as an object or artifact]. I dreamed it. Ever since my early childhood, I have been captivated by the Bible. It has always seemed to me and still seems today the greatest source of poetry of all times.’

- Marc Chagall (quoted in F. Dallmayr, Marc Chagall, The Artist as Peacemaker, Oxford & New York, 2021, p. 33.)

At the opening of the 1930s, Ambroise Vollard commissioned Chagall to create a series of illustrations of the Bible, focusing on themes from the Old Testament. In order to refresh his imagination and put him in touch with the roots of these stories, Chagall travelled to Egypt, Palestine and modern-day Israel in the spring of 1931, driven by an inner necessity to experience the land from which the Bible had emerged. Unusually for the artist, he spent time working outdoors, absorbing the atmosphere of the landscape, and he later told Jacques Lassaigne that this trip gave him ‘the most vivid impression he had ever received’ (quoted in J. Wullschlager, op. cit., p. 349). In a similar vein, he later travelled to Amsterdam to study first-hand the Biblical paintings of Rembrandt, and in 1934 ventured as far as Spain to see the work of El Greco, in order to absorb and understand the example of the Old Masters. Alongside the roughly one hundred etchings he created for the Vollard commission, Chagall completed a myriad of gouaches and paintings during these years depicting Kings, Prophets, angelic beings and other characters from Biblical stories, allegorical objects and symbolic motifs, which combined with his own memories of the religious ceremonies and practices from his youth.

Chagall was intensely aware of the historical and spiritual significance of these subjects. However, as he explained in ‘The Biblical Message’ in 1973, he did not intend with such images to advance any doctrine. Rather, Chagall hoped that they would offer people of all ages and backgrounds, faiths and creeds, a means to find ‘a certain peace…, a certain spirituality, a religiosity, a meaning to life. To my way of thinking, these paintings do not illustrate the dream of a single people, but that of mankind’ (in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 173). Seeing the Bible as a human story, Chagall believed that spiritual imagery was in need of constant reimagination and renewal to remain relevant to a twentieth-century audience, and so he boldly forged a highly individual and inventive approach to religious themes in his art, creating powerful imagery that spoke to diverse audiences.

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