Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale


Marc Chagall
1887 - 1985
signed Chagall (lower left); signed Chagall on the reverse
oil on canvas
73 by 115.5cm.
28 3/4 by 45 1/2 in.
Painted in 1983.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Marc Chagall.


The artist’s studio

Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 15th June 2007, lot 18

Opera Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2008


Seoul, Opera Gallery, 2008

Catalogue Note

Chagall first travelled to the Côte d’Azur in 1926 in the company of his wife Bella and their daughter Ida. In the spring of that year they spent some time in Nice, where the vegetation and light were a revelation to the artist. From this first contact stems his later passion for the southern coast of France. Having spent most of the Second World War in the United States, in 1948 Chagall returned to France, and in 1950 settled in Vence. During this time Chagall had regular contact with Picasso and Matisse who were his neighbours in this region. In 1966 Chagall and his second wife Vava moved to ‘La Colline’, a new house in the nearby hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence (fig. 2), with the painter’s studio on the ground floor. He was to stay here until the end of his life.


The present composition depicts the recognisable view of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, dominated by the church at its top. Chagall depicted a similar, although less panoramic, view of Saint-Paul-de-Vence in Le couple dans le paysage bleu of 1969-71 (fig. 1), with the Mediterranean seen to its right. In the present composition the blue sky above the town contains a large, bright yellow sun as well as various other elements from the artist’s iconography – animals, musicians and the flying couple. By juxtaposing this imagery, Soleil dans le ciel de Saint-Paul combines Chagall’s love of his Mediterranean home with his characteristic dream-like pictorial vision. With its free-flowing style and bright, translucent colours, the present work is a magnificent example of the effect that the south of France had on Chagall’s art. ‘The Southern French landscape has astonished Chagall with its wealth of colours and its lyrical atmosphere, had captivated him with the beauty of its flowers and foliage. These impressions found their way into his paintings of that period, refined their peinture and lent them a hitherto unknown radiance’ (Walter Erben, Marc Chagall, London, 1957, p. 134).


With its fantastical, dream-like composition, the painting becomes an expression of the artist’s internal feelings and souvenirs rather than an objective projection of the outside world and of the familiar landscape. As such, Chagall’s paintings defy symbolic meaning and categorisation. In particular, his dreamscapes resist interpretation despite the ubiquity of repeated pictorial symbols; through repetition they become both familiar and meaningless, manifestations of a rich and colourful imagination that can be understood not through intellect but through intuition. As the artist himself proclaimed: ‘For me a picture is a surface covered with representations of things (objects, animals, human beings) in a certain order in which logic and illustration have no importance. The visual effect of the composition is what is paramount’ (quoted in Susan Compton, Chagall (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1985, p. 21).




Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art Evening Sale