Lot 51
  • 51

Marc Chagall

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 USD
2,826,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • Roses et mimosas
  • Signed Marc Chagall and dated 1956 (lower left); signed Marc Chagall and dated 1956 on the reverse
  • Oil and crayon on canvas


Galerie Maeght, Paris

Perls Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in 1965)

Evelyn Sharp (acquired from the above in 1965 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 12, 1997, lot 20)

Private Collection (acquired at the above sale and sold: Christie's, London, June 24, 2008, lot 71)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, n.d.

New York, Perls Galleries, Marc Chagall Paintings 1955-64, 1965

Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art; Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art; Nagoya, Aichi Museum; Kumamoto Prefectural Museum, Marc Chagall, 1976, no.13

New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Evelyn Sharp Collection, 1978, no.14

Tokyo, Nihonbashi Takashimaya Gallery; Ohita Prefectural Museum; Iwate Prefectural Museum, Tokyo, Tachikawa Takashimaya Gallery; Tokyo, Tamagawa Takashimaya Gallery; Kyoto, Takashimaya Gallery; Fukushima Prefectural Museum; Nagoya, Meitetsu Gallery; Toyama, Takaoka Municipal Museum; Hokkaido, Sapporo  Marui Gallery, Chagall, 1980, no. P8, illustrated in the catalogue

Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Marc Chagall Retrospective, 1982, no. 77, illustrated in the catalogue 

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, Marc Chagall Retrospective de l'oeuvre peint, 1984, no. 57, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, Nihonbashi Takashimaya Gallery; Osaka, Takashimaya Gallery; Yokohama, Takashimaya Gallery; Kyoto, Takashimaya Gallery, Hommage à Chagall, 1986, no. 33

Tokyo, The Bunkamura Fine Arts Museum; Kasama Nichido Museum; Nagoya City Art Museum, Chagall, 1989-1990, no. 103

Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kultustiftung, Marc Chagall, 1991, no. 82, illustrated in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Roses et mimosas depicts a recurring subject of Chagall's career – a vase of flowers. Chagall painted this motif throughout his career, and in the present work is one of the most important manifestations of the theme. The artist was first struck by the charm of flowers in Toulon in 1924; he later claimed that he had not known of flowers in Russia, and they came to represent France for him. In his dream-like paintings, he consistently drew from a vocabulary of personal symbolism: when painting a bouquet, it was like painting a landscape of his adopted country. Writing about the subject of flowers in Chagall's work, Franz Meyer commented: "Many are simple still-lifes with a bunch of red roses and white lilacs; in others, pairs of lovers and air-borne fiddlers gambol through space. The atmosphere encompasses and pervades the flowers like a magically light airy fluid, vibrant with their vitality" (F. Meyer, Marc Chagall. Life and Work, New York, 1961, p. 369).

Particularly striking in the present work is the contrast between the heavy impasto and deeply saturated colors of the bouquets of flowers and the pearlescent tones of the background. While depicting elements of the traditional interior genre, such as the candelabra and the tabletop, Chagall still manages to undermine a logical spatial relationship by rendering various objects on unrelated scales. This abandon to the joy of creation and the artistic freedom of interpretation reflect Chagall's confidence in his style and technique and his deeply individual and subjective approach to painting. 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.

When Chagall painted the present work in 1956, he was in the midst of publishing one of his most ambitious series of etchings for an illustrated version of the Bible.  The journalist Alexander Liberman visited Chagall in Vence after these etchings were published in 1956, and noted how Chagall's skills as a draughtsman at this point were at their most refined.  Indeed, we can see that linear precision in the form of the mother and child in the upper right of the present composition. 

Liberman's description of Chagall's painting, written two years after the present work was completed, is insightful for its recognition of the time needed to absorb the complexities of the artist's colorful compositions.  He writes,  "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." (A. Liberman, "The Artist in His Studio", 1958, reprinted in J. Baal-Teshuva, Chagall: A Retrospective, China, 1995, p. 337)