MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
3 更多
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… 顯示更多 PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION
MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)

Le cheval bleu

MARC CHAGALL (1887-1985)
Le cheval bleu
signed and dated 'Marc Chagall 1948' (lower left)
oil on canvas
27 x 35 in. (68.7 x 88.9 cm.)
Painted in 1948
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (no. 2465), by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1950.
Stephen Hahn, New York, by whom acquired from the above.
Private Collection, United States, by whom acquired from the above by 1964, and thence by descent.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
F. Meyer, Marc Chagall: Life and Work, New York, 1964, no. 775, pp. 478, 480 & 759 (illustrated n.p., prior to signature and date).
Pasadena, Art Museum, Marc Chagall: Seventieth Anniversary Exhibition, May - July 1957, no. 40, pp. 19 & 28 (illustrated p. 19, prior to signature and date).
Hamburg, Kunstverein, Marc Chagall, February - March 1959, no. 132, p. 40 (illustrated pl. 132, prior to signature and date); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Haus der Kunst, April - May 1959; and Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, June - September 1959.
Saint-Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, Hommage à Marc Chagall: Oeuvres de 1947-1967, August - September 1967, no. 7, p. 26.

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
The Comité Marc Chagall has confirmed the authenticity of this work.


Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Auction


Marc Chagall’s 1948 canvas Le cheval bleu is a lyrical combination of memory and fantasy, a phantasmagoria suffused with blue, the colour of lapis lazuli. The composition is dominated by the titular character: a galloping horse, whose mane is entangled with the long hair of a hauntingly beautiful violinist. The horse is accompanied by a jubilant bright red rooster and an intimately entwined sleeping couple, whose contented expressions are highlighted with verdant green. Together, these familiar animalistic and figurative motifs float above a quiet village, across a night sky illuminated by a glowing full moon. This painting is a mature manifestation of the sixty-one-year old artist’s bold, polychromatic creative vision.

The cool gush of blue in Le cheval bleu offers a clear link to Chagall’s earlier work; indeed, similar blues first appeared in Chagall’s paintings around 1910, and quickly became one of the artist’s signature hues. This shockingly modern colour also evokes the ultramarine colour of later twentieth-century artists – the potent ‘International Klein Blue’ of Yves Klein’s monochromatic paintings of the 1950s and 1960s, for example. Yet Chagall’s rich, multi-tonal application of this vibrant colour is unique to his highly emotive, expressive approach towards art; as has been written of his universally appealing imagery, ‘All this exists within the sonorous Chagallian azure, magically creating light from dark; in the primordial blue which seems to have been sensed by the master, seen by him in prophetic dreams and presented to the world’ (M. Guerman, S. Forestier, and D. Wigal, Marc Chagall: Vitebsk, Paris, New York, New York, 2019, n.p.).

Chagall painted Le cheval bleu in 1948, the year that he returned to his chosen country of France after seven years spent in the United States. In 1941, the artist had fled France with the onset of World War II—along with Bella Chagall, his beloved wife since 1915, and soon followed by their grown daughter, Ida. Bella’s sudden, unexpected death in New York in September 1944 left the artist utterly bereft. Exiled in a country whose language he did not speak, he was now also without his faithful partner, who had largely managed his personal and professional life.

Soon, however, Chagall found another companion in Virginia Haggard McNeill, a married British woman twenty-eight-years his junior, who initially worked for the artist as a housekeeper. Chagall and Virginia eventually began an affair, with French as their mutual love language. Their only son, David, was born in 1946 – the same year that the artist’s retrospective exhibition opened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Despite his success in America and the joys of his newfound love, Chagall continued to yearn for France, where he had spent much of his adult life. The artist first visited there as a young man in 1910; he moved back to Paris after the conclusion of the First World War, and would remain there until the outbreak of the Second.

Together with Virginia, her daughter Jean, and their young son, Chagall finally left the United States for Paris in August 1948. The artist and his newly expanded family settled in the suburban commune of Orgeval, where he began to work in earnest. Chagall’s profound love and nostalgia for his marriage with his first wife, Bella, continued to inform his work during this period; yet his affair with Virginia endowed his canvases with a renewed sensual energy. Indeed, these two loves – a blissful twenty-nine-year-long marriage and an exciting new liaison – coexisted in Chagall’s romantic imagination. These emotions found expression in a number of canvases during this period, including Le cheval bleu. As I.F. Walter and R. Metzger have observed, ‘After his return to France, Chagall’s work still remained a poetic metaphor for his turbulent life history, a balancing act negotiating dream and reality, an adventure of the imagination that made the invisible visible and thus real’ (I.F. Walther and R. Metzger, Marc Chagall: Painting as Poetry, Cologne, 2000, p. 77).

By this stage of his career, Chagall had achieved true international acclaim. The 1946 MoMA retrospective had been followed by a solo exhibition at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris in 1947, which later travelled to London and Amsterdam. Chagall also earned the Grand Prix de Gravure at the Venice Biennale in September 1948, in recognition for his illustrations for the classic novel, Les Ames mortes (Dead Souls), commissioned by Ambroise Vollard in 1923 and finally completed and published in 1948. Chagall had by now developed his own vast, kaleidoscopic visual lexicon; he employed these images with ease, in a wide range of media.

In oil on canvas paintings such as Le cheval bleu, Chagall continued to be moved by his memories of his native village of Vitebsk; rural motifs, such as farm animals and village rooftops, regularly appeared in his work. However, Chagall seems to have resented any suggestion that his work was derivative of various Russian artistic traditions, ranging from kitschy folk prints to Orthodox Christian icons; as he wrote to the American modern art critic Leo Koenig, ‘Please do not emphasize that I was especially inspired by the “Lubok” [Russian narrative folk prints] or as [art historian Lionello] Venturi thinks, by “icons.” I was inspired by everything, even the pig who scratched his back on the fence in Vitebsk’ (quoted in B. Harshav, Marc Chagall and His Times: A Documentary Narrative, Stanford, 2004, p. 8). For Chagall, even the most humble anecdotes could be translated into his mythic vision of painting, as evidenced by Le cheval bleu.

After Chagall completed Le cheval bleu in 1948, the canvas was acquired from the artist by the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York—lead by the son of the famous Fauvist painter, Henri Matisse. The painting subsequently appeared in several major international retrospective exhibitions devoted to the artist in the 1950s and 1960s, including a traveling show that was installed in the Kunstverein Hamburg, the Haus Der Kunst in Munich, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1959.

更多來自 二十及二十一世紀藝術:倫敦晚間拍賣