The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.
Estate of the artist
Ida Chagall, Paris
Private Collection (by descent from the above and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 1999, lot 148)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Throughout his career Chagall turned to The Bible for inspiration, even as early as 1912 when the theme of Adam and Eve resulted in a major oil painting (Adam and Eve, St. Louis Art Museum). In 1930, Ambroise Vollard commissioned a series of illustrations for The Bible, a project to which Chagall returned sporadically until 1956, the year of its publication by E. Tériade. From the early 1950's onwards, no doubt encouraged by his second journey to Israel in 1951, Chagall devoted a major series of paintings to Biblical themes, the “Message Biblique.” The large canvases including Paradise, Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise of 1958-61, were installed in the Musée National Message Biblique, Nice, in 1969. Near the end of his long life he painted the work under discussion, a lyrical poem to the innocent state of Adam and Eve before the Fall from Eden in which the serpent, so visibly threatening in the version of the subject in Nice, is notably absent. Working with a lighter palette and less fully saturated color than in the earlier version of Paradise, Chagall achieved a color-infused, ethereal quality that he seldom surpassed in his late works.
“I went back to the great universal book, The Bible. Since my childhood, it has filled me with visions about the world and inspired me in my work. In moments of doubt, its highly poetic grandeur and wisdom have comforted me. For me it is like a second nature. I see the events of life and works of art through the window of The Bible. A truly great work is penetrated by its spirit and harmony. I am probably not the only one to think so, especially in our times. Since in my inner life the spirit and world of The Bible occupy a large place, I have tried to express it. It is essential to show the elements of the world that are not visible and not to reproduce nature in all its aspects...” (Marc Chagall, ‘Musée du Message Biblique', Chagall by Chagall, New York, 1979, p. 189).
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