The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Chagall was introduced to Bella Rosenfeld in 1909. In his autobiography Chagall wrote of their first meeting: "I feel she has known me always, as if she were watching over me, divining my innermost being, though this is the first time I have seen her, I know this is she, my wife. Her pale coloring, her eyes. How big and round and black they are! They are my eyes, my soul... I had only to open my bedroom window, and blue air, love and flowers entered with her. Dressed all in white or all in black, she seemed to float over my canvases for a long time, guiding my art" (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall, A Retrospective, New York, 1995, pp. 58-61).
Following a four-year grant from his first patron Maxim Vinaver to live and work in Paris, Chagall returned to Vitebsk and proposed to Bella. Though her family initially objected to their marriage, the two proved to be an ideal match. Bella was an aspiring actress and an accomplished writer whose works First Encounter and Burning Lights were published in three languages. It was through her work with The Jewish Theater in Moscow that Chagall created the first of his set designs and it was Bella who translated Chagall's autobiography into French in 1931. Together they had one daughter, Ida, who was born in 1916.
The numerous paintings for which Bella served as inspiration are tribute to the depth and consistency of Chagall's love. Fruits et fleurs, painted in 1940, presents a tender image at upper right of the woman who was Chagall's model and muse until her untimely death four short years later. Chagall was so devastated by her death that he was unable to paint for almost a year. In 1947 he wrote, "For years her love influenced my paintings... to whom compare her? She was like no other. She was the Bashenka-Belloshka of Vitebsk on the hill, mirrored in the Dvina with its clouds and trees and houses. Things, people, landscapes, Jewish holidays, flowers--that was her world" (quoted in ibid., pp. 176-177).