MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Visions de Paris

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Visions de Paris
stamped with the signature ‘Marc Chagall’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
33 x 46 cm. (13 x 18 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1953
The Estate of the artist.
Contini Gallery, Venise, Italy.
Private collection, Europe.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

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Dexter How (陶啟勇)
Dexter How (陶啟勇)

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Lot Essay

The Comité Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Visions de Paris, painted in 1953, relates to Marc Chagall’s “Paris Series,” a group of more than thirty works that he conceived in February 1952, and executed over the course of the next few years. A selection of twenty-nine of these pictures was exhibited at Galerie Maeght in June 1954. He based many of these views on drawings he made as he walked the boulevards and streets of a city he had known since he was a young man; he also returned to sketches he made in coloured chalks and pastels while on a three-month sojourn in Paris during the spring of 1946, the first of several visits he made to France as he considered relocating from America, where he had spent his wartime exile. Following his permanent return in 1948, Chagall eventually settled in Vence, a town in the Midi. He continued to use his daughter Ida's home in Paris as a base and was a frequent visitor to the capital for exhibitions and other activities.

The views in the “Paris Series,” as Franz Meyer has written, “blend under a magic veil of colour with the dance of lovers and fabulous creatures” (Marc Chagall: Life and Work, New York, 1964, p. 530). The artist evoked well-known sites in the capital including Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Bastille, Opéra, Panthéon, Place de la Concorde, St-Germain-des-Prés and the bridges and quays along the Seine. Chagall wrote in the Maeght exhibition catalogue: “Paris, my heart's reflection: I would like to blend with it, not to be alone with myself.” As Jackie Wullschlager has noted, this was “his first exhibition since his marriage to Vava [in 1952], and it demonstrated a new ambition, scale and consistency of vision that had been absent from his work in the decade following Bella's death” (Chagall, A Biography, New York, 2008, p. 483).

The present painting is Chagall's poetic evocation of two lovers on a romantic evening, under the cover of nightfall. The picture is peopled with various characters from Chagall’s well-known artistic language, all engaged in a dream-like nocturnal narrative, recalling memories from the artist's past and present, real or imagined, literal or symbolic. The figures of two lovers in the foreground meld into the sapphire blue of the Seine, under the subtle moonlight which descends in emerald green upon the romantic city. Its light illuminates the gentle green animal hovering above the edge of the water in reminiscence of the artist’s rural past, from his childhood home town of Vitebsk. Above, underneath the moon, the figure of the artist works at his easel, recalling the artist’s memories into his canvas. The figure of the mother and child towards the left glow forward in ruby red and amber, gently shining from the ambient darkness, atop a large, tourmaline pink rooster, the most symbolic French Rooster, which carries them, floating underneath. This is a glimpse into a pantheon that is Chagall's own, and yet its magical quality and its open, honest charm are enchanting, inviting us to share in his reverie of romantic love and attachment to the places that inspired him creatively and emotionally.

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