Lot 128
  • 128

Marc Chagall

220,000 - 280,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • La Famille
  • signed Marc Chagall (lower left)
  • gouache, watercolour, and brush and ink on paper laid down on canvas
  • 71.4 by 55.9cm., 28 1/8 by 22in.


Galerie Maeght, Paris
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1973


Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Marc Chagall, 1982, no. 93
Humlebæk, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Marc Chagall, 1983

Catalogue Note

Throughout his life, Marc Chagall continually returned to certain themes that held potent artistic stimulation for him. These themes stemmed from real life – his life – but he was never confined to recreating natural life on paper. It was his masterful ability to evoke an atmosphere that renders his works so eternally captivating. Spectators can see lovers float through the air, animals playing instruments, and angels flitting across the sky as we gaze at the illustrations of Chagall’s mind and mythology.

La Famille
is a delightful testament to the artist’s vibrant imagination as it blends so many of his most iconic motifs.  The angel hovers above the new family as though offering her blessing and guidance, the farmyard animal evokes Chagall’s happy childhood in rural Belarus, and the bold blossoming of flowers in the centre of the picture adds an element of lushness to the midnight calm. The vibrant blue that colours the composition is surely one of the most-loved and easily-recognisable artistic elements of Chagall’s œuvre. Picasso is said to have remarked that ‘when Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is’ (Jackie Wullschlager, Chagall: Love and Exile, London, 2008, p. 456). The powerful hue here is essential to the sense of intense love that pervades the work.

The central impression of the work is exactly this: an enduring and intimate affection between the members of the famille of the title. The man and woman seem literally to radiate with love as they are caught in the spotlight of the observant moon. The fantastical elements, so characteristic of Chagall, elevate the love into an image of exuberant euphoria. This piece is a wonderful example of the artist's mastery of atmosphere, where his subjects are bound in a love both gentle and intoxicating.