The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.
Galerie Maeght, Paris Acquired in Israel after 1964
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1996, n.n, illustrated in color in the catalogue
IFAR Journal, vol. 10, no. 3/4, 2008-09, illustrated p. 59
Bringing together many of the motifs and imagery that Chagall had developed throughout his career, Les Paysans shows the artist exploring his various sources of his artistic inspiration. The array of folkloric imagery is assembled in a dense and complex composition containing several of the most crucial elements in his pictorial iconography: the peasant and goat, a familial scene of mother and child, the dual presence of the sun and the crescent moon, and a landscape of the artist’s birthplace of Vitebsk. As Susan Compton writes in the catalogue of the Royal Academy's Chagall retrospective, "Throughout his life certain themes recur in the work of Chagall: the circus, lovers and peasants... For the themes in Chagall's art are timeless, not confined to a single epoch of history, but reminding man of the continuity of life for generation and generation, since the earliest days of recorded time" (Susan Compton, Chagall (exhibition catalogue), Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1985, p. 14).
By 1976, Chagall had much to reflect on; Eastern Europe remained at the forefront of his mind—even more so following his emotional visit in 1973 after an absence of over fifty years—yet at the same time he had been happily settled in Vence for many years. In the present work, the vibrantly colored goat, a symbol of the artist’s agrarian roots, is cradled by a solemn peasant, and together they recall Chagall’s rural upbringing in Vitebsk. The rural life he experienced there was the subject of his earliest forays into artistic expression and remained a mainstay of his visual vocabulary. As he explained: “The fact that I made use of cows, milkmaids, roosters and provincial Russian architecture as my source forms is because they are part of the environment from which I spring and which undoubtedly left the deepest impression on my visual memory of any experiences I have known... The vital mark these early influences leave is, as it were, on the handwriting of the artist” (quoted in James Johnson Sweeney, “An Interview with Marc Chagall” in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, Chagall, A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 278).
Executed on cream wove paper. There is tape residue to the verso of the upper corners. There is what appears to the minor foxing to the paper in the lower left quadrant. The is an overall minor wave to the paper. The pigments are bright and fresh and the work is in excellent condition. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.