The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Painting the present work in the mid-1970s, Chagall was one of the greatest living masters of the modern movement. Faithful to the inspiration which had fired his art from the very beginning Chagall continued to paint with the same vigor and intensity that he had shown all through his life. Old age never makes its appearance in Chagall's paintings after his early period. And given its rapturously romantic subject and the brilliant freshness of his motifs and colors, one might easily mistake Autour de fruits rouges for the work of a much younger man. It is indeed a work of youthful aspect by an old master, all the more remarkable at this late date.
The scene here is a nocturnal view of newlyweds seated at a table laden with fruit and flowers. The medieval spirit of old Provence lay everywhere around Chagall, and in deeper layers beneath that, the classical civilization of the ancient colony which the Romans called the Province. Chagall appears to have lifted the image of these young lovers straight from the courtly traditions of the 12th century troubadours and their noble ladies, whose music of longing and impassioned poetry, among the first cast not in venerable church Latin but in the local vernacular, their langue d'oc, reveled in the refined sentiments they elicited from the newly born conception of romantic love, embodied here in the flaming reds and pinks of the burgeoning bouquet and the woven basket of ripening fruit.
These amoureux, who have magically materialized in the ethereal light of a crescent moon, are—as we have learned we must always imagine them to be—Chagall himself and his beloved first wife Bella, who died in 1944, but who remained his eternal bride and forever the light of his life.
Much of Chagall's enduring immersion in Bella's memory was any man's nostalgia for the great love of his youth. Chagall was fortunate enough to have married his first true love, and he cultivated ever after these beautiful memories like a patient and ever mindful gardener. For Chagall in his advanced age, as was also the case with Picasso, memory became the key to creativity; the desire to revisit and relive all the stages of a long and passionate life imparts a poignant dimension to the work of this artist's old age, in pictures that betoken a wisdom beyond words.