Lot 25
  • 25

Marc Chagall

3,000,000 - 4,000,000 USD
4,400,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • La Famille
  • Signed Marc Chagall (lower left); signed Marc Chagall (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas


Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York (acquired by 1972)

Private Collection, New York

R. Kaller-Kimche, Inc., New York

Private Collection, New York

Sale: Christie's, London, June 20, 2006, lot 148

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Marc Chagall, Paintings and Gouaches, 1972, no. 18, illustrated in color in the catalogue 


André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Chagall, Paris, 1974, illustrated p. 176

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1969-71, La Famille evokes a time when the artist was nostalgic for his youth while celebrating the joyful and tranquil life he made in Saint-Paul-de-Vence with his wife Vava. In reference to Chagall’s output from this period, the artist’s biographer Franz Meyer writes, “The light, the vegetation, the rhythm of life all contributed to the rise of a more relaxed airy, sensuous style in which the magic of colour dominates more and more with the passing years. At Vence he witnessed the daily miracle of growth and blossoming in the mild, strong all-pervading light—an experience in which earth and matter had their place” (Franz Meyer, Marc Chagall, London, 1964, p. 519).

Chagall found a strong affinity between painting and dreaming, themes exquisitely reflected in this composition. The extreme boldness of color and dynamic energy of the unstructured composition conveys the fantasy and exuberance of his inner and ideal world. La Famille contains several of the most crucial elements in the artist's pictorial iconography: symbols of his agrarian roots, domesticity and a landscape evoking both the villages of his childhood home in Russia and the Mediterranean coastal towns in the south of France. The amalgamation of these elements results in a whimsical, dream-like composition that becomes an expression of the artist’s internal universe rather than an objective commentary of the modern world.

The journalist Alexander Liberman, who visited Chagall in Vence in the late 1950's, eloquently described the intricacy of Chagall's paintings: "Like a human being, a Chagall painting reveals its rich complexity only if one has lived with it and in it, in the way the artist has during its creation. One must look at his paintings closely to experience their full power. After the impact of the overall effect, there is the joy of the close-up discovery. In this intimate scrutiny, the slightest variation takes on immense importance. We cannot concentrate for a long time; our senses tire quickly and we need, after moments of intense stimulation, periods of rest. Chagall understands this visual secret better than most painters; he draws our interest into a corner where minute details hold it, and when we tire of that, we rest, floating in a space of color, until the eye lands on a new small island of quivering life" (A. Liberman, "The Artist in His Studio," 1958, reprinted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Chagall: A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), China, 1995, p. 337).