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Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Bella apportant un bouquet d'anémones

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
Bella apportant un bouquet d'anémones
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25¾ x 18 in. (65.4 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in Mourillon, 1926
Katia Granoff, Paris.
Mme Fernand Halphen, Paris.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's, London, 7 December 1977, lot 25.

Lot Essay

The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.

Marc Chagall was introduced to Bella Rosenfeld in 1909. In his autobiography Chagall wrote of their first meeting, "I feel she has known me always, as if she were watching over me, divining my innermost being, though this is the first time I have seen her, I know this is she, my wife. Her pale coloring, her eyes. How big and round and black they are! They are my eyes, my soul ... I had only to open my bedroom window, and blue air, love and flowers entered with her. Dressed all in white or all in black, she seemed to float over my canvases for a long time, guiding my art" (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall, A Retrospective, New York, 1995, pp. 58-61).

Following a four-year grant from his first patron Maxim Vinaver to live and work in Paris, Chagall returned to Vitebsk and proposed to Bella. Though her family initially objected to their marriage, the two proved to be an ideal match. Bella was an aspiring actress and an accomplished writer whose works First Encounter and Burning Lights were published in three languages. It was through her work with The Jewish Theatre in Moscow that Chagall created the first of his set designs and it was Bella who translated Chagall's autobiography into French in 1931. Together they had one daughter, Ida, who was born in 1916.

The numerous paintings for which Bella served as inspiration are tribute to the depth and consistency of Chagall's love. Bella apportant un bouquet d'anémones presents a tender image of the woman who was Chagall's model and muse until her untimely death in 1944. Chagall was so devastated by her death that he was unable to paint for almost a year. Three years later he wrote, "For years her love influenced my paintings ... to whom compare her? She was like no other. She was the Bashenka-Belloshka of Vitebsk on the hill, mirrored in the Dvina with its clouds and trees and houses. Things, people, landscapes, Jewish holidays, flowers--that was her world ..." (quoted in ibid., pp. 176-177).

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