MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
1 More
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Bouc bleu au coq rouge

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Bouc bleu au coq rouge
with the artist's estate stamp ‘Marc Chagall’ (lower right)
oil, tempera and pen and India ink on canvas
55.2 x 38.4 cm (21 3⁄4 x 15 1⁄8 in.)
Painted circa 1971-1974
Estate of the artist
Acquired from the above by the present owner, in the late-1980s

The Comité Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work

Brought to you by

Emmanuelle Chan
Emmanuelle Chan Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Day and Online Sales

Lot Essay

'All our interior world is reality—and perhaps more so than our apparent world…To call everything that appears illogical, 'fantasy, fairy tale, or chimera' would be practically to admit not understanding nature.'
– Marc Chagall (quoted in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Palo Alto, 2003, pp. 81-82)

Bouc bleu au coq rouge is an extraordinarily rich and sumptuous work featuring an abundance of the artist’s most iconic motifs, brimming with colour in Chagall’s distinctive azure blue and rich rose red. This denselyworked composition depicts the pastoral elements which so inspired the artist, with farm animals and the townscape recalling his fondest memories of his hometown in Vitebsk, melded with the idyllic surroundings of his adopted home in Saint-Paul-de- Vence, evoked by the verdant, abundant, bouquet and the soft glow of the warm Mediterranean sun, hovering above.

Bouc bleu au coq rouge highlights the profound impact the Côte d’Azur had on the artist, and the manner in which the tranquil atmosphere and beautiful landscapes of the South of France came to influence his painting. He had first moved to the area in the early 1950s, settling in the historic walled town of Vence, and described his life there as ‘a bouquet of roses’ (Chagall, quoted in S. Alexander, Marc Chagall: A Biography, New York, 1978, p. 492). As Franz Meyer, Chagall’s biographer and son-in-law, explained: ‘The light, the vegetation, the rhythm of life, all contributed to the rise of a more relaxed, airy, sensuous style in which the magic of colour dominates…’ (F. Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, London, 1964, p. 519). In Bouc bleu au coq rouge Chagall uses a luminous, effervescent blue throughout the composition, evoking the bright, azure light that filled the town, while the lush vitality of the foliage and roses highlights the sense of abundance and plenitude that radiated from the Provençale landscape.

Chagall’s dream-like animals conjure a sense of harmonious rural life and communion with nature. As the artist himself said, 'The fact that I made use of cows, milkmaids, roosters and provincial Russian architecture as my source forms is because they are part of the environment from which I spring and which undoubtedly left the deepest impression on my visual memory of the experiences I have' (quoted in B. Harshav, ed., Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, Stanford, 2003, p. 83). Chagall’s ubiquitous farm animals often take the form of avatars, performing human activities with semi-human features, most often embodying the artist in the form of painter or lover. In the foreground, a bright blue goat reaches forth, clutching a bouquet of bright flowers that emerge from a burst of green foliage. Representing the fiery symbology of the artist’s homeland, the bright red cockerel, floating jubilantly above, provides a vibrant counterpoint with its radiant plumage.

Chagall often used flowers as a symbol of romantic love in his paintings, incorporating the motif in his compositions in order to evoke the intense feelings of passion and love that absorbed him. The theme of flowers was one to which Chagall returned time and again throughout his career, though his pursuit of the subject became particularly fervent in the mid- 1920s. As James Johnson Sweeney has noted, ‘It was in Toulon in 1924, Chagall recalls, that the charm of French flowers first struck him. He claims that he had not known bouquets of flowers in Russia...He said that when he painted a bouquet it was as if he was painting a landscape. It represented France to him." (Marc Chagall, New York, 1946, p. 56).

Although Chagall insisted throughout his career that it was not his intention to create paintings which were symbolic in nature, the autobiographical lexicon inherent in his works is certainly hard to ignore. Bouc bleu au coq rouge was painted at a time when Chagall had achieved happiness in his romantic life, and was enjoying professional success as well. In Bouc bleu au coq rouge, this joyful exuberance—along with a wistful reminder of the artist's youth—is readily apparent.

More from 20th Century Art Day Sale

View All
View All