The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Executed in 1969, Lune rousse au Cap d’Antibes dates from one of the most prolific periods in Chagall’s career, at a time when he was considered to be one of the greatest living artists in the world. The stability and contentment he felt in his personal life, combined with recent experiments in a diverse array of media including mosaic and stained glass, had inspired a renewed impetus in the artist’s painting, and drove him to revisit some of the highly personal themes which had occupied his art for decades. For Chagall, painting had always been a medium through which to express the internal world of his imagination, recording his memories, passions and emotions on canvas in a fantastical, anti-rational manner. Lune rousse au Cap d’Antibes continues this tradition, expressing the happiness and contentment that the artist felt living in the South of France with his second wife, Valentina ("Vava") Brodsky.
Chagall had become enchanted by the landscape of the Côte d’Azur in the early 1950s, when the impact of the sky, sea and flora had convinced him that he should move there for the benefit of his art. The French Riviera had become a thriving artistic center following the Second World War, with several artists, including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, settling there. Chagall bought the villa, Les Collines, situated on the slope of the Baou des Blancs, just a few miles north of Antibes. Inspired by the light, atmosphere, and verdant gardens which surrounded the house, Chagall spent his days engrossed in creating joyous new artworks. Chagall used numerous nearby villages as backdrops for the works he created while living there. Indeed, the Port Vauban Antibes appears to be directly referenced by Chagall in the present work, as the distinctive silhouette of its Fort Carré stands prominently beneath the blaze of the red moon.
At the time Lune rousse au Cap d’Antibes was conceived, Chagall was enjoying a prolonged period of marital bliss with Vava, as the artist called her. His daughter, Ida, had first introduced the pair in 1952 and, following a short romance, Chagall and Vava were married that summer. The sense of stability and peace the artist felt with Vava translated directly into his art, and during the three decades they spent together, she was a regular source of inspiration for him. Lune rousse au Cap d'Antibes can be seen to be a direct celebration of their love, with the artist’s focus on the theme of romance clearly embodied in the reclining lovers beneath an oversized bouquet. The serenity of the man’s face, as he lovingly gazes down on his female companion by the light of the setting sun, conveys the depth of his feelings for her. The connection between the couple, who may be read as a symbolic self-portrait of Chagall and Vava, is emphasized in their physical union, as the fusion of their forms leaves the distinction between one body and the next unclear. Chagall often used flowers as a symbol of romantic love in his paintings, and their inclusion in Lune rousse au Cap d’Antibes is an indication of Chagall’s feelings of love and happiness at this time.