Lot 21
  • 21

Marc Chagall

900,000 - 1,200,000 USD
1,030,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • Le Violoniste
  • Signed Chagall (lower left)
  • Gouache, India ink and charcoal on paper
  • 19 1/4 by 25 1/4 in.
  • 49.5 by 65 cm


Louis & Evelyn Franck (acquired in Belgium in the late 1930s)

Thence by descent to the present owner


Kunsthaus Zürich, Chagall, 1967, no. 218

New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Marc Chagall: work on paper: selected masterpieces, 1975, no. 23

Tokyo, Musée National d'Art Occidental, Chagall, 1963, no. 145, illustrated in the catalogue


Franz Meyer, Marc Chagall, Life and Work, New York, 1963, no. 463, illustrated pl. 463

Catalogue Note

This colorful gouache rendering of a violinist is one of Chagall's earliest and most important interpretations of a theme that would come to dominate his career.  This stunning composition evidences the artist's pleasure in depicting the dynamic character whose music would fill the shtetls of Vitebsk.  Dating from the late 1920s, this particular picture may have a more poignant subtext in that the violinist is understood to be the alter ego of the artist.  Chagall had spent the previous decade in the Soviet Union, where he had been forbidden to return to France.  The image here may be interpreted as a symbol of freedom, with the musician playing his celebratory tune after recently leaving Communist Russia.   

Although this picture is specifically concerned with the musician, Chagall's pictorial characters had many levels of significance.  To him, they represented the many faces of man's emotional character, both fun-loving and tragic.  He once wrote, "I have always considered the clowns, acrobats, and actors as being tragically human who, for me, would resemble characters from certain religious paintings.  And even today, when I paint a Crucifixion or another religious painting, I experience again almost the same sensations that I felt while painting circus people, and yet there is nothing literary in these paintings, and it is very difficult to explain why I find a psycho-plastic resemblance between the two kinds of composition."