Lot 52
  • 52

Marc Chagall

Estimate
700,000 - 900,000 GBP
Sold
1,445,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Marc Chagall
  • Le vase bleu
  • signed Marc Chagall (lower right); signed Marc Chagall on the reverse
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

Galerie Maeght, Paris

Acquired from the above by the parents of the present owners in 1979

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1978, Le vase bleu is a striking example of the mesmerising dream world that characterises Chagall’s distinctive artistic vision. At the centre of the composition is a glorious still life; flowers are part of the cornucopia of motifs that reoccur throughout Chagall’s œuvre, and they carry a special significance, as André Verdet explains: ‘Marc Chagall loved flowers. He delighted in their aroma, in contemplating their colors. For a long time, certainly after 1948 when he moved for good to the South of France after his wartime stay in the U.S., there were always flowers in his studio. In his work bouquets of flowers held a special place… Usually they created a sense of joy, but they could also reflect the melancholy of memories’ (A. Verdet quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall: A Retrospective, Fairfield, 1995, p. 347).

In the present work Chagall continues the powerful association between lovers and flowers that began as early as his 1915 canvas L'Anniversaire in which his first wife Bella is shown holding a bouquet of flowers. Le vase bleu deliberately recalls this, and the allusion to Bella suggests a mood of reflection and nostalgia. This is further emphasised by the soulful blue that pervades the canvas, and was a common feature of Chagall’s later works. By 1978, aged ninety-one, Chagall had much to reflect on; Russia and his early life with Bella remained at the forefront of his mind - even more so following his emotional visit there in 1973 after an absence of over fifty years - yet at the same time he had been happily settled in Saint-Paul-de-Vence with his second wife Vava for many years. Widely acclaimed and sought after, he could reflect in comfort on his artistic success; a position consolidated in the 1970s by the opening of the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall in 1973 and then by the presentation of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in 1977.

The present work is illustrative of this sense of contentment and stability. Following his return to France from The United States in 1948, Chagall had been drawn to the Mediterranean coast of southern France settling initially in the medieval town of Vence. The region had positive associations for Chagall; he had first visited there in 1926 with Bella and their young daughter Ida, and the impression it made on him had a lasting influence. Walter Erben writes: ‘The Southern French landscape had astonished Chagall with its wealth of colours and its lyrical atmosphere, had captivated him with the beauty of its flowers and foliage. These impressions found their way into his paintings of that period, refined their peinture and lent them a hitherto unknown radiance' (W. Erben, Marc Chagall, London, 1957, p. 134). In 1966 he moved with Vava to the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence (fig. 2) and he was to remain there for the rest of his life. The distinctive rooftops of the medieval town, dominated by the high church tower, appear in a number of his later paintings (fig. 1) and the evocation of them in the present work complements the mood of quiet contentment that Chagall so skillfully conjures.

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