Lot 48
  • 48

Marc Chagall

Estimate
1,000,000 - 1,500,000 GBP
Sold
2,837,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Marc Chagall
  • Les Amoureux de Vence
  • signed Marc Chagall (lower left); signed Marc Chagall and dated 1957 on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Hans Schröder, Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Saarbrücken (acquired from the artist through Galerie Maeght, Paris by 1963. Sold: Kunsthaus Lempertz, Cologne, Sammlung Hans Schröder, 10th December 1986, lot 24)

Purchased at the above sale by the parents of the present owner

Exhibited

Hamburg, Kunstverein; Munich, Haus der Kunst & Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Marc Chagall, 1959, no. 172 (no. 180 in Paris), illustrated in the catalogue

Strasbourg, Chateau des Rohan, La Grande Aventure de l'Art du XXe siècle, 1963, no. 179, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Les Amants de Vence)

Hamburg, Kunstverein & Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Vom Bauhaus bis zur Gegenwart, 1967, no. 14, illustrated in the catalogue

Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in der Kunsthalle, Marc Chagall, Werke aus sechs Jahrzehnten, 1967, no. 176, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Grand Palais, Hommage à Chagall, 1969-70, no. 144, illustrated in the catalogue

Literature

Franz Meyer, Chagall, New York, 1961, illustrated in colour p. 557

Georg W. Költzsch, 'Zur Kunstsammlung Hans Schröder', in Saarheimat, year 10, issue 2, February 1966, illustrated in colour on the dust jacket

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 the 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, with the painter’s studio on the ground floor. He was to stay there until the end of his life.

The present composition depicts a young couple holding a bouquet of flowers, set against the same distinctive view of Saint-Paul-de-Vence that Chagall often turned to in his later work (fig. 1). The view of the town, dominated by the church at its top, is surrounded by Chagall’s characteristic iconography, including a bright red sun and a goat that appears to be floating in the sky, all set against a shimmering green background. By juxtaposing this imagery, Les Amoureux de Vence 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).

This renewed appreciation of colour was complemented by the artist’s work in stained glass (fig. 2) which began with a project in 1956 for new church windows at Assy. Influenced by his work with this medium, Chagall became increasingly experimental in his use of colour, as Meyer explained when discussing the present work: ‘The increase in luminosity is also matched by the trend towards monochromy. In many of the pictures Chagall painted in recent years the picture space is created essentially by a single colour… In the [present] work the young lovers stand on the right before the hill on which the town in built. Green fills the spacious landscape and links the motifs. This green has an overpowering density and yet flows as freely as if fed by an inexhaustible spring. The red of the sun, the yellow and orange of veil and hair, speed up the movement; the blue in the trees creates breathing space’ (F. Meyer, op. cit., p. 554). 

The first owner of the present work was Hans Schröder (1900-1986), a German entrepreneur and a passionate art collector. He was particularly focused on French artists of his time, and acquired works both from auctions and galleries, while at the same time cherishing opportunities to meet artists directly. He acquired the present oil Les Amoureux de Vence directly from Chagall’s studio in Vence, having being introduced to the artist by his dealer, Galerie Maeght.

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