216
216

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Marc Chagall
LE PRINTEMPS
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,068,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
216

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Marc Chagall
LE PRINTEMPS
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 1,068,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Marc Chagall
1887 - 1985
LE PRINTEMPS
Signed Marc Chagall (lower right); signed Marc Chagall (on the reverse)
Oil on canvas
18 1/8 by 21 5/8 in.
46 by 54.9 cm
Painted in 1975. 
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The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.

Provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris
Hammer Galleries, New York
Private Collection, New York (and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 12, 1987, lot 457A)
Galerie Taménaga, Paris
Private Collection, Tokyo (and sold: Shinwa Art Auction, Tokyo, July 24, 2010, lot 149)
Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

New York, Hammer Galleries, Marc Chagall, 1983, no. 5

Catalogue Note

Le Printemps is an exquisite depiction of springtime which includes some of Chagall’s most recognizable motifs: symbols of his Eastern European heritage, domesticity and a landscape evoking both the villages of his childhood home in Russia and the Mediterranean coastal towns in the south of France. The amalgamation of these elements results in a whimsical, dream-like composition that becomes an expression of the artist’s internal universe rather than an objective commentary of the modern world.

Chagall employs the color blue to create a sense of mysticism, alluding to the spiritual significance that color holds in religious iconography. The embracing couple is likely a reference to Chagall's relationship with his wife Valentine Brodsky (Vava) whom he married in 1952. This was his second marriage after he lost his first wife, Bella, who died shortly after World War II. In 1947, Chagall used this oversized bouquet theme with a pair of lovers to express his feelings of loss and nostalgia while he was mourning Bella. Yet, the artist's depiction of Vava in this 1975 work seems to indicate that he has once again found domestic bliss. 

The green donkey is a motif Chagall employed in multiple works throughout the course of his life, often alongside a couple such as that in Le Printemps. It is symbolic of the Jewish-Russian peasantry and folk traditions of his hometown of Vitebsk (now in present day Belarus), where at the beginning of the twentieth century Jews constituted half the population. The city was fully destroyed during the Second World War, and most of the local Jews residing in the city perished along with it. The painting seems to unite the peace and adoration characteristic of Chagall’s later life alongside Vava with the ever-present, more melancholic memories of his youth and of a life that decades earlier had been overturned by Hitler’s rise to power. Chagall can be considered one of the great biographical artists of the twentieth century, as he invests all of his pictures with deeply personal images from his humble past in Belarus, his splendid years in Paris, and his blissful marriage in the later years of his life.  Le Printemps is a quintessential example Chagall's ability to fuse all of these references within one extraordinary composition.  

The journalist Alexander Liberman, who visited Chagall in the late 1950s, eloquently described the complexity and intimacy of Chagall's paintings: "Like a human being, a Chagall painting reveals its rich complexity only if one has lived with it and in it, in the way the artist has during its creation. One must look at his paintings closely to experience their full power. After the impact of the overall effect, there is the joy of the close-up discovery. In this intimate scrutiny, the slightest variation takes on immense importance. We cannot concentrate for a long time; our senses tire quickly and we need, after moments of intense stimulation, periods of rest. Chagall understands this visual secret better than most painters; he draws our interest into a corner where minute details hold it, and when we tire of that, we rest, floating in a space of color, until the eye lands on a new small island of quivering life" (Alexander Liberman, "The Artist in His Studio," 1958, reprinted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Chagall: A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 337).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York