A photo-certificae from the Comité Chagall dated Saint-Paul, 10 March 2001, accompanies this gouache.
The present gouache was painted in Chagall's studio in his villa "Les Collines," which was situated on the slope of the Baou des Blancs, near the road between Saint-Paul-de-Vence and nearby Saint-Jeannet. Chagall and his erstwhile companion Virginia McNeil, who had been renting a house in Orgeval (near Paris) and spent the early months of 1949 in the Mediterranean village of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, lived briefly in Saint-Jeannet. They subsequently found the two-story home outside Vence that had once been owned by the writer Catherine Pozzi, who played hostess to Paul Claudel, André Gide and Paul Valery. After making renovations, the artist moved into "Les Collines" in the spring of 1950. The artist set up his studio in an annex to the house. One of the large studio windows overlooked Vence, which is visible in the distance of the present work.
"The new environment is responsible not only for the view from his window on the little old walled town and the steeple of the medieval cathedral, which appears in so many of his pictures, but also for the novel charm of the painterly mood which embraces all things that grow and blossom.
"In gouaches and washed India ink drawings he did a quantity of still lifes with mimosa and pinks, peonies, lilies and daisies, artichokes, peppers, leeks, melons, pomegranates, and grapes He seemed possessed by an urge to experience in his painting all the airy and solid, hard and soft, substance and surface of the things that grow out of the earth" (F. Meyer, Marc Chagall Life and Work, New York, 1965, pp. 501-502).
The double-faced, Janus-like self-portrait is a frequent motif in Chagall's paintings, and is here the focal point of several dual aspects in this composition. Reflecting the vivid green color of its natural surroundings, one face looks with awe and wonderment to the exterior world seen through the window, while the other face looks inward in contemplation, facing the blue violinist, which symbolizes the lyrical nature of art. The abundance of visual stimuli that lies outdoors is mirrored in the still-life arrangement set on the table before the window. The window serves as both divider and bridge between these two worlds. The large blue bird that enters the room is like an angelic messenger, the bearer of creative inspiration, which unites these dual spheres of existence.