Lot 33
  • 33

Marc Chagall

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
185,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • Couple russe en buste
  • signed Marc Chagall (lower left)
  • watercolour on paper
  • 33.5 by 25.5cm.
  • 13 1/4 by 10in.


Galerie Maeght, Paris

Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above in the 1960s)

Catalogue Note

Following the Russian Revolution, Chagall left his homeland, and settled in Paris in 1923. His return to France reunited him with the city that had been so influential in his early artistic development and once again it allowed him to work with renewed energy. The works of the 1920s and early 1930s show Chagall developing an increasingly vibrant palette that reflected the influence of this new environment and growing appreciation of colour.  

In Couple Russe en buste this luminous colouring is combined with an iconography that directly recalls Russia. Susan Compton notes that, ‘As the 1920s drew to a close a new mood becomes apparent in Chagall’s work… reflecting his continuing contacts with Russia’ (S. Compton, Chagall (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1985, p. 202).  Clothed in the distinctive uniform of the Russian peasantry, the two figures fill the sheet and the immediacy of their presence reflects the strength of feeling Chagall retained for his homeland. At the same time, his use of colour is given new impetus through the freer medium of gouache, infusing the composition with a glowing, vibrant red.

The importance of both cultures to his artistic development was something the artist always emphasised, explaining in an interview in 1947, ‘As a native of Vitebsk I was still as close to Russia and to the soil as the day I left. But as an artist I felt myself just as much a stranger to the official, aesthetic ideology of the new government as I had been to the provincial art ideals of the Russia I left in 1910. At that time I decided I needed Paris. The root-soil of my art was Vitebsk, but like a tree, my art needed Paris like water, otherwise it would wither and die’ (quoted in J. J. Sweeney, ‘An Interview with Marc Chagall’, in J. Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall: A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 278).