Oil and ink on board, stamped with artist’s signature. Painted in 1969.
Board size: 14 x 12in / 35 x 30cm
Frame size: 22 x 20in / 56 x 51cm
Chagall painted this work in 1969 while living on the Côte d’Azure at his villa, Les Collines, finding inspiration in the neighboring town of Saint-Jeannet, with its imposing mountain, Le Baou de Saint-Jeannet. In typical Chagall fashion, the artist has turned the mountain into one of his most favorite subjects, the lovers, most likely a direct reference to the artist and Vava. Set against a background of deep blues, the lovers’ eternal embrace is fused into the shape of the mountain, standing high above the bustling village below. In contrast with the rich background are the vibrant touches of yellow, green, orange and white making up the floral bouquets that balance the composition. A blazing red harvest moon illuminates the night sky, faintly lighting the way for the donkey and basket-toting villager in the foreground. This work is a study for the larger oil from the same year, a canvas that remained in the artist’s collection until his death, demonstrating the personal connection Chagall had with the subject matter.
Martin Lawrence Gallery, Boston.
Private Collection, USA.
This painting is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Marc Chagall, Number 2018021
Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as "the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century" (though Chagall saw his work as "not the dream of one people but of all humanity"). According to art historian Michael J. Lewis, Chagall was considered to be "the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists". For decades, he "had also been respected as the world's preeminent Jewish artist". Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra.
Before World War I, he traveled between St. Petersburg, Paris, and Berlin. During this period he created his own mixture and style of modern art based on his idea of Eastern European Jewish folk culture. He spent the wartime years in Soviet Belarus, becoming one of the country's most distinguished artists and a member of the modernist avant-garde, founding the Vitebsk Arts College before leaving again for Paris in 1922.
He had two basic reputations, writes Lewis: as a pioneer of modernism and as a major Jewish artist. He experienced modernism's "golden age" in Paris, where "he synthesized the art forms of Cubism, Symbolism, and Fauvism, and the influence of Fauvism gave rise to Surrealism". Yet throughout these phases of his style "he remained most emphatically a Jewish artist, whose work was one long dreamy reverie of life in his native village of Vitebsk."
"When Matisse dies," Pablo Picasso remarked in the 1950s, "Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is".