Lot 149
  • 149

Marc Chagall

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
476,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • Deux profils verts au cirque
  • stamped Chagall (lower right)
  • gouache, pastel, collage and pen and ink on paper


Estate of the Artist
Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 20th June 2014, lot 20
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Marc Chagall’s fascination with the visual splendour of the circus originated during his childhood in the Russian village of Vitebsk. This vibrant theme served as a source of inspiration throughout his career. In his monograph on the artist, Franz Meyer explains: ‘Traveling acrobats were probably the first ‘artists’ Chagall came across as a child, the first to impose a form on the wondrous in the sense of conscious action. But this biographical observation cannot altogether explain the importance of the circus for Chagall. For in other respects, too, the circus act, as immediate, unadulterated representation of life in its own peculiar fantasy – fleeting as a ripple in the stream, yet coherent as any true achievement – satisfies a fundamental Chagallesque conception of art. It leads nowhere and yet is all. For just like color and form, the circus act is not a copy but a representation, a reflection of life in its totality’ (Franz Meyer, Marc Chagall, Life and Work, New York, 1963, p. 554-6).

The subject of the circus first appeared in Chagall’s work in 1927 in a series of gouaches entitled Cirque Vollard, which were motivated by his visits to the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris with the publisher and art dealer Ambroise Vollard. An invitation to attend the shooting of a film in the Cirque d'Hiver in 1956 sparked another series of circus pictures that were executed with the vibrant colours and new luminosity that Chagall discovered in the Mediterranean at his Vence residence. Executed in 1966, the present work reflects Chagall’s continued enthusiasm for the spectacle of the circus: acrobats balance on beasts surrounded by tiers of spectators, and further performers – both human and animal – hover above the circus ring, acting simultaneously as subjects of the work as well as onlookers to the action below. The rhythm of the performance and exciting acrobatic feats are complimented by the bold, bright colours and unstructured composition of this whimsical, fantastical scene. Deux profils verts au cirque is a dynamic and thrilling example of the creative energy and sense of theatre that Chagall never ceased to find in the circus.