The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
The figure of the violinist in Marc Chagall’s œuvre is among the best-known and most widely reproduced of his quintessential images. In Chagall’s time, the life of the village musician was intimately bound up in the daily life and rituals of his community. He represented the sole expression of art that many poor village people would ever experience, as he presided over get-togethers of all kinds, celebrating births, birthdays and other anniversaries, bar mitzvahs and weddings. As such, the violin player was associated with catharsis in moments of suffering, yearning and mourning but also celebration and joy as an omnipotent presence in the pertinent memories of Chagall’s youth.
Chagall’s original, defining, composition Le violoniste from 1912-1913, now resident in the Stedelijk Museum and created during Chagall’s first sojourn to Paris, was a revelation, as Meyer further extols, 'Everything is kept in movement in a delicate, wondrous fashion, as if spellbound by the music.' The second version 1919-1920 was then painted back in Russia and the large Violoniste now in the The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which was probably painted soon after Chagall returned to Paris, in late 1923 or 1924 (A.Z. Rudenstine, The Guggenheim Museum Collection, Paintings 1880-1945, New York, 1976, p. 74). Chagall also used the green fiddler to represent 'Music' in a series of four vertical panels on the arts, executed for the State Jewish Kamerny Theater in Moscow, which are now housed in the State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow.
Drawing on these highly significant works from the artist’s early career, Le violoniste from 1961 comes during the artist’s twilight years in the bountiful South of France, a period of calm, joy and invigoration for Chagall after having endured two world wars and significant personal tragedy. Evoking a surreal and dream-like sense of memory within the framework of the artist’s by now well-known visual language, the enlarged face of the fiddler in Le violoniste emerges amidst the swirling, overlapping forms of the rooster, the violin, dense foliage and Chagall’s hometown of Vitebsk, immersed in the deep, romantic blue of the artist’s iconic twilight. Although the old world that Chagall’s fiddler inhabited may have to some degree disappeared from his life, the memory of his significance is as present and strong as ever, imbued with the potency of nostalgia in the distance of time.