The Comité Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Following his permanent return to France in 1948 Chagall settled in Vence, a town in the Midi, but continued to use his daughter Ida's home in Paris as a base and was a frequent visitor to the capital for exhibitions and other activities throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Returning to Paris, memories came flooding back to Chagall of his formative years there.
Chagall had moved from St. Petersburg to Paris in 1911 as part of a remarkable migration of artists all drawn to the city as the epicentre of the avant-garde. The composition of Fenêtre ouverte sur Paris is closely related to Chagall’s early masterpiece of 1913, Paris par la fenêtre, now in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Paris par la fenêtre is a bold example of Chagall’s mastery of lyrical evocation of dreams, memory and experience translated into pictorial form. The artist is pictured at the lower right corner, looking out of his window over the rooftops of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower beyond, and a couple floating horizontally in the foreground – perhaps the artist and his soon-to-be wife Bella. The sky consists of broad swathes of colour. A cat with a human face is perched on the windowsill, and inside the window is a small vase of flowers. Both the setting and the figures are evocative but fictional and mythical - as Angelica Zander Rudenstein notes: ‘The notion (frequently suggested in the literature) that Chagall’s studio actually looked out on the Eiffel Tower is clearly false, since La Ruche (2, Passage de Dantzig) was across the Seine and over a mile away from the Champ de Mars’ (A. Rudenstine, The Guggenheim Museum Collection, vol. I, Paintings, 1880-1945, New York, 1976).
Painting Fenêtre ouverte sur Paris exactly fifty years later, Chagall has replaced the blue self-portrait at the lower right of Paris par la fenêtre with a nude female figure with startling green hair. It is night time in Paris, and the moon is shining over the rooftops and reflecting off the structure of the Eiffel Tower. The vase of flowers and chair of the 1913 masterpiece have returned, but the delicate vase has now blossomed into a colourful vertical spray of blooms, bursting with colour and lively impasto from the left of the composition. A small orange cockerel flutters above the flowers, and the cat with human face is now a cow or horse peeking over the windowsill.
Chagall was a struggling artist on his first trip to Paris, dreaming of a future of artistic success, family and happiness. When he returned to Paris in the 1950s and 1960s, it was as an internationally acclaimed artist, enjoying a new romantic life with his second wife Vava, who he had married in 1952. It is this new romance and happiness that we see in Fenêtre ouverte sur Paris.