In 1941 Chagall left for the United States at the invitation of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Amongst the many friends who were there to visit him was Jacques Schiffrin, the owner of Pantheon books, who asked Chagall whether he would illustrate a spectacular series of tales from the Arabian Nights which Pantheon was planning to publish. Chagall produced thirteen wonderful illustrations which were published in 1948.
The present work, which represents one of the finest of the series, is one of three gouaches Chagall made to illustrate The Tale of the Ebony Horse. He painted other romantic gouaches for Kamar Al-Zaman and the Jeweller's Wife, Julnar the Sea-Born and her Son Kind Badr Basim of Persia, Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman Shaharazad's Night.