The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
‘I have always painted pictures where human love floods my colours’
Amidst a deep blue moonlight sky, a bride and groom float above a village, watched over by animals and framed by a magnificent bouquet of brightly coloured flowers in Marc Chagall’s poetic Les amoureux bleus. Painted between 1948 and 1951, this work dates from a time of transition and change in Chagall’s life. In 1948 the artist had returned to France from his wartime exile in America, moving first to a house in Orgeval, in the countryside outside Paris. Chagall returned to Europe a deeply changed man. In 1944, his beloved wife and muse, Bella had died in New York. Bereft, he was unable to paint for six months. A year later, Chagall met a young and unhappily married English woman, Virginia Haggard McNeil. The pair fell quickly in love, and Virginia gave birth to their son, David, in June 1946. Together, Chagall, Virginia, her daughter, Jean, and David returned to France, where they were met by Chagall and Bella’s daughter, Ida.
A few months after their arrival in Europe, Chagall and his family were invited by the Greek publisher Tériade to stay at his home in the south of France. Chagall immediately fell under the spell of the Côte d’Azur, finding respite from the anxiety he felt for the fate of his friends in Soviet Russia. He first rented a house in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, before moving, a year later, to Les Collines, an idyllic house with pistachio-coloured shutters set upon the hills of Vence. Surrounded by peach orchards, olive groves, palms and orange trees and overlooking the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean beyond, this house was a paradise and would remain his home for the next sixteen years, longer than he had lived anywhere before in his life.
Chagall set up his studio in one of the outbuildings, the large windows and expansive views flooding the space with light and colour. As a result, his work of this time became looser and more sensuous, filled with images of floating lovers and blossoming flowers, such as Les amoureux bleus. As Virginia recalled, ‘An explosion of new ideas was suddenly released at the sight of the Mediterranean... His store of “Chagall” material was jolted and injected with new substance, producing a series of variations around a theme...the sea, the boats and flowers of St. Jean tumbled out in exuberant succession’ (V. Haggard McNeil, My Life with Chagall, New York, 1986, pp. 89-90).