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

La jeune mexicaine

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
La jeune mexicaine
signed, dated and inscribed 'Marc Chagall MÉXICO 943' (lower right)
gouache, watercolor and colored wax crayons on paper
20 x 19 ¼ in. (50.6 x 49.1 cm.)
Executed in Mexico City in 1943
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (probably acquired from the artist, 1943).
Mrs. Malcolm McBride, Cleveland (acquired from the above, then by descent).
R.M. Light & Co., Inc., Boston (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owner, November 1970.
Further details
The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Executed in rich jewel tones of blue and red, La jeune mexicaine depicts a beautiful woman carrying a basket of fruits, serenaded by a Mexican mariachi. In the summer of 1942, Chagall travelled to Mexico with his wife Bella in response to a commission he had received to design the scenery and costumes for the American Ballet Theater company's production of Aleko. The Chagalls had arrived in New York the previous summer and it was there where the preliminary arrangements for the production were made. Léonide Massine was brought on to oversee the choreography and Chagall found a valuable kinship with his fellow Russian. They would meet almost daily for several months in the lead up to the production, which, due to technical reasons, was scheduled to premiere in Mexico City rather than New York. Franz Meyer has written that "for Chagall and his wife, the months spent working with Massine were among the happiest of their stay in America" (Marc Chagall, Life and Work, New York, 1964, p. 438).
Once the Chagalls arrived in Mexico City, they were each consumed with working on the final touches of the production. Chagall worked on the backdrops while Bella took part by supervising the costume production. Despite their busy schedules, the Chagalls were able to sneak moments away to explore the city and surrounding countryside of Mexico. It was during those brief interludes that Chagall was able to complete several sketches that would inform a series of gouaches depicting the local populace. "These works reveal his deep sympathy with Mexico and the Mexicans. He felt attracted to their ardent, generous nature and was pleased at their feeling for art and their response to his own work. It is these people that we see in the gouaches" (ibid., p. 440).

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