This work is sold with a photo-certificate from the Comité Marc Chagall, numbered no. 2002029.
Chagall depicted himself frequently in his role as the artist, leading Lionello Venturi to note that "Chagall's work is a poetic metaphor of his own autobiography." (Marc Chagall : Monotypes 1966-1975 Volume II, Geneva 1976). The artist is presented at the heart of his own imaginary world in Le peintre et l'oiseau, an exercise in inward reflection, through which he sought to gain a deeper understanding of all aspects of the world. He also reaffirmed the authenticity of his work through his autobiographical presence. Le peintre et l'oiseau recalls earlier self-portraits, including le peintre et son modèle, L'apparition de la famille de l'artise, and L'Ange au peintre completed in the 1940s.
This picture encompasses many Chagall themes. The artist stands before a canvas of a still life with a large bouquet of flowers in a vase, a motif introduced early into Chagall's work after meeting his first wife, Bella Meyer in 1909. To Chagall, the spiritual aspect of flowers represented the true essence of life, love and happiness as well as its tragic, transient nature. Rapid brushstrokes accentuate the vibrancy of the red and blue flowers. Objects of his affection reappear here, namely the cow, beloved symbol of nurturing motherhood, the dove hovering above the artist's head, and the hen in the right foreground. These beasts and birds represent astral forces, related to the hen's association with the sun and the white dove with the moon, underlining Chagall's lack of distinction between the physical and spiritual world.
Le peintre et l'oiseau is saturated with a range of blue tones, animated through the juxtaposition of complementary colours. The contrast of the woman's red dress in the right background with the green body of the cow behind her is echoed in the bunch of red flowers and green leaves on the artist's canvas. This current work captures the essence of Chagall's world in its subject matter and the vibrancy of colour and light.