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signed 'Mané-Katz' (lower right); signed and dated 'MANE-KATZ LE Concert Les tuilerie 1954' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
43 1⁄8 x 45 7⁄8 in. (109.5 x 116.5 cm.)
Painted in 1957
Galerie Charpentier, Paris, by 1957.
Galerie Ferrero, Geneva, by 1965.
Jean and Bluette Nordmann, Fribourg, by 1970.
Anonymous sale; Artcurial, Paris, 23 March 2011, lot 113.
Private collection, Europe, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
R. S. Ariès, Mané-Katz, the complete works, vol. I, London, 1970, no. 521, p. 157 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, École de Paris, October 1957, no. 98.
Geneva, Galerie Ferrero, Hommage à Mané-Katz, March – April 1965, no. 16.

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Lot Essay

Born in June 1894, in Kremenchug, Ukraine, the Litvak painter Mané-Katz arrived in Paris in 1913, where he joined Fernand Cormon’s atelier. It was there that he met and befriended Chaïm Soutine and Marc Chagall, alongside whom he is considered as a member of the Jewish School of Paris. Upon the outbreak of the First World War, Mané-Katz returned to Russia, eventually making his way back to Paris in 1923 and becoming a French citizen in 1927. From 1921 onwards, the artist began to exhibit his work in the major Parisian salons and quickly established himself as one of the prominent members of the Ecole de Paris and the Ecole de Montparnasse.

Following the horrors of the Second World War, during which Mané-Katz fled to New York, the artist’s sombre style would metamorphose into one of joy. Upon his return to Paris in 1945, Mané-Katz presented scenes of Jewish experience, which he executed with an indomitable, celebratory energy. Painting hundreds of portraits of rabbis and works of Jewish symbolism, it was during the final decade of his life that Mané-Katz turned his brush to the apogeic celebration of human connection, joy and enduring love: the wedding. The present work is one of a series of depictions of Jewish wedding ceremonies executed from the mid-1950s until his death (fig. 1 and fig. 2). The vast dimensions and riotous palette of Le Mariage make it an imposing work, and a particularly striking example of the frank, lively and colourful expressionist style the artist employed in his late oeuvre. The bold impasto which fabricates the traditional clothing of the wedding couple and guests leaps out of the canvas, and the bride’s dress is transformed into a luminous, flashing passage of white.

In 1961, one year before his death, Mané-Katz wrote: “Should I, out of scrupulous modesty, abstain from saying that I believe I have a message to transmit to the world, a message which, for an artist, has no better agent of transmission than his art itself? I have the impression that all my efforts have always tended towards the delivery of this message”. The message the artist refers to is that of the witness to a two thousand year old Odyssey. Poet of the ghetto and the Synagogue, bearer of a Biblical message, Mané-Katz devoted much of his work to the depiction of the Jewish tradition.

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