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

La Mariée

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
La Mariée
signed 'Marc Chagall' (lower right); signed again and dated 'Marc Chagall 1948-52' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
21 3/8 x 25 5/8 in. (54.3 x 65 cm.)
Painted circa 1950
Galerie Ferrero, Geneva.
Marlborough Gallery, Inc., New York.
Private collection (acquired from the above, circa 1955); sale, Christie's, New York, 5 November 2003, lot 326.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

Lot Essay

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

La Mariée is a celebration of Chagall's mysterious universe, one filled with a sense of romantic possibility, hope and optimism. An embracing couple floats in the foreground, flanked by a flower-bearing attendant and upended violin. The theme of lovers is one which recurs through his pictures, infusing them with romance informed by his own life, through his love for his first wife Bella, whose death resulted in many works in which he projected their ultimate reunion in the afterlife, and for his second wife, Vava, to whom he was married the year the present work was painted. For Chagall, love and beauty were powerful elements, forces that could only bring more harmony to the world. Explaining his dedication to this cause and his hope that, by devoting himself to it, he would be able to spread those feelings, he held "that only love and uncalculating devotion towards others will lead to the greatest harmony in life and in art of which humanity has been dreaming so long. And this must, of course, be included in each utterance, in each brushstroke, and in each colour" (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall, A Retrospective, Westport, 1995, p. 208).

The bouquet proferred by the lithe green figure at left is an ineradicable token of Chagall's portrayals of lovers. First explored by Chagall in paintings from the early 1920s depicting the artist with his beloved Bella, flowers rapidly became intrinsic to his romantic, symbolic vocabulary. "It was in Toulon in 1924...that the charm of French flowers first struck [Chagall]. He claims he had not known bouquets of flowers in Russia--or at least they were not so common as in France...He said that when he painted a bouquet it was as if he was painting a landscape. It represented France to him. But the discovery was also a logical one in the light of the change taking place in his vision and pictorial interests. Flowers, especially mixed bouquets of tiny blossoms, offer a variety of delicate colour combinations and a fund of texture contrasts which were beginning to hold Chagall's attention more and more" (J.J. Sweeney, Marc Chagall, New York, 1946, p. 56).

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