The representation of hybrid creatures between man and animal comes from a long tradition spreading from Hieronymus Bosch to Goya, through Johann Füssli. In the 20th Century, Chagall is probably the one who most frequently drew on from the animal directory to populate his universe. It is for the artist a sign of his deep attachment to his childhood, marked by religious folklore and the omnipresence of domestic beasts raised by his family. Without insisting too much on the symbolism of the animals he represents, the animal presence allows Chagall to stress the expressiveness, humour and lyricism of his compositions, in order to emphasize that humans and animals are ultimately members of the same community.
There is nothing anecdotal in my pictures - no fairy tales - no literature in the sense of folk-legend associations... For me a picture is a plane surface covered with representations of objects - beasts, birds, or humans - in a certain order in which anecdotal illustrational logic has no importance. The visual effectiveness of the painted composition comes first. Every extra-structural consideration is secondary”
If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing”
Chagall had from the outset established himself as a colourist, but it was not until this latter part of his life that his colour achieved its full radiance and plenitude in his work. It was during the 1960s, using the lessons he had learned while working on several large-scale public commissions for stained glass windows, that light and colour became an essential elements in Chagall's work in their own right. Coucher de soleil et coq au double-profil is suffused with the warm luminosity and sun drenched colour of the South of France, which Chagall has complimented with his airy, free handling of pigment. The imagery employed combines some of Chagall's favourite subjects in a composition of great poetical beauty, worthy of the artist's best works.
Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).