- Marc Chagall
Étude pour Les Boulevards ou Paris fantastique
- Signed Marc Chagall (lower right)
- Oil, watercolor, ink and charcoal on paper laid down on canvas
- 25 3/8 by 19 3/4 in.
- 64.5 by 50.2 cm
Pera Museum Publication 37, Chagall: Life and Love, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, November 2009, p. 69
Meira Perry-Lehmann & Ortrud Westheider, Marc Chagall, Lebenslinien, Hamburg, 2010, no. 102, illustrated p. 166
Étude pour Les Boulevards is a beautifully rendered painting containing many of the major themes and motifs that Chagall explored throughout his distinguished career. In this picture, Chagall shows a pair of lovers rising into the night sky, leaving behind the sleeping city of Paris. Overlooking this fantasy is a wide eyed rooster, proudly combed in gold with a regal red plumage. The moon seems to be emitting somnolent rays as a hand reaches towards a festoon of foliage. Chagall's image of the night is filled with bright colors, a clear reference to the vividity of his nocturnal experiences and the power of his dreams.
The theme of the lovers is particularly important to Chagall, who often revisited the relationship with Bella, his childhood sweetheart, in the works that he created even after her death, filling his pictures with both romance and nostalgia. During the time that he made Les Boulevards, though, Chagall was coming to the end of another relationship, that with Virginia McNeil, his partner for several years and the mother of his son. It was perhaps the uncertainty and tension of this period that resulted in the myriad of motifs he employs in this work. At the same time, gone is the light of the south of France, where he was again living, replaced by a darker vision that recalls some of his pictures from before the Second World War. This, then, is a more expressionistic vision, filled with an ambience that is more contemplative than many of the lighter works that emerged following his marriage, later in the same year, to Valentina Brodsky, or "Vava."