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

L’ange pourpre

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
L’ange pourpre
gouache, watercolor, pastel and black chalk on paper
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
30 1/8 x 22 in. (76.5 x 55.9 cm.)
Executed in 1941
Private collection, Chicago (circa 1945).
By descent from the above to the present owners.
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall, New York, 1964, p. 757, no. 701 (illustrated).
W. Haftmann, Marc Chagall: Gouaches, Drawings, Watercolors, New York, 1984, pp. 90 and 209, no. 51 (illustrated in color, p. 91, pl. 51).
New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, European Artists in America, March-April 1945, p. 6, no. 10.
Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art and Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, Marc Chagall, October-December 1963, no. 156 (illustrated).
Kunsthaus Zürich, Chagall, May-July 1967, p. 42, no. 233.
Further details
The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Lot Essay

“I don't know where he [Chagall] gets those images; he must have an angel in his head.”
- Pablo Picasso (quoted in S. Alexander, Marc Chagall, a Biography, Cassell, London, 1978, p. 33).

Executed in striking hues of complementary greens, blues, yellows and pourpre, the present watercolor is at once familiar and unexpected. It was executed in 1941, the year that Chagall fled from France to the United States with his wife Bella, to escape the horrors of war going on in Europe.
Throughout his artistic career, Chagall developed an iconography uniquely his, as his friend Picasso playfully put above, of which many elements are present here: the angel, the bouquet, the horse, a smiling profile, the overlooking Moon. Also depicted is the figure of Christ in the background, which the Jewish painter notoriously appropriated from the Christian tradition as a universal symbol of hope, resilience, and acceptance–all values which Chagall hoped to pour more of onto the world as war and displacement were ruthlessly shaping it.
The angel here dominates the scene, reassuringly resting her hand on the Christian prophet while gazing downwards at the human figure in the lower left corner. An allegory for his partner-in-exile Bella, the bouquet, here depicted in the mythical winged creature’s hand, had become a part of Chagall’s imagery as early as in his iconic painting L’anniversaire (1915). He had immortalized, in this seminal work, an instance in which his first wife had brought freshly cut flowers to his studio. During their years spent in France, he had developed this subject to become a metonymy for Bella.
Here, the feminine angel presides over the scene in an attitude of strength and compassion, carrying the bouquet symbolizing love, both personal and universal, as a guiding force for humanity.

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