The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
“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” (Chagall quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall, A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 277).
Painted circa 1980, Les deux ânes au soleil comes from a period of stability and contentment in Marc Chagall’s life. Having settled in Vence in the South of France, the artist and his second wife, Valentina “Vava” Brodsky, were living in a house called “La Collines.” Painted towards the end of the artist’s life, Les deux ânes au soleil can be seen as an amalgamation of some of the leading themes that Chagall had examined throughout his career—love, memory and fantasy—as well as a presentation of many of the artist’s most evocative and emblematic motifs. A street scene from Chagall’s beloved Vitebsk, the Russian town in which he was born, provides the setting over which a sky full of floating figures and animals are depicted. The scene is bathed in a haze of rich blue, a characteristic of many of Chagall’s works, imbuing the image with a fantastical atmosphere, a figment of the distinctive visionary imagination of the artist.
The animals that appear in the hazy, blue sky appear as symbols of the rural town of Vitebsk. Even though the artist spent many years away from Russia, his national heritage and identity remained a potent force within his painting. Chagall once stated, “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing” (quoted in ibid., p. 16). Les deux ânes au soleil displays an enthralling and vivid depiction of the artist’s imagination and memory. With a poetic lyricism that unites the characters and motifs, this work is a magical impression of the artist’s wondrous pictorial world.