The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.
Since September 1923, the Chagalls had been residing in Paris, and were happily touring the countryside of their newly adopted land. “I want an art of the earth, not only of the head,” the artist declared (quoted in Marc Chagall, exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2003, p. 40). Living for several months in Chambon, Auvergne provided authentically rustic, folkloric ambience for the gouache illustrations that Ambroise Vollard had commissioned for an edition of La Fontaine’s Fables, which Chagall completed in 1926.
Chagall, Bella, and their daughter Ida traveled from Normandy and Brittany, south to Céret, once the fabled “Mecca of Cubism,” near the Spanish border, and along the Mediterranean coast. During the winter of 1927-1928 they visited Chamonix and stayed in several villages in the Savoy. Chagall conceived a special fondness for mountainous landscapes—so unlike the flat steppes of Russia, but at the highest elevations and in winter nostalgically deep in snow.
In his Savoy landscapes Chagall turned to a favorite compositional device that he had developed in various Russian and Paris canvases—which Henri Matisse had been employing during the 1920s in his Nice interiors—the secondary “frame” of the open or closed window, as a magical threshold between the expansive grandeur of the exterior natural world and the serene intimacy of the artist’s inner, domestic environment. While treating landscape motifs in a naturalist manner, Chagall typically injected incongruous elements that mingle realism with memory, fantasy, and dream. “Chagall does not descend into his landscape,” Lionello Venturi observed, “He views it from afar, as if spellbound, dreaming of love with open eyes” (quoted in F. Meyer, op. cit., p. 381).