Lot 40
  • 40

Marc Chagall

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
3,132,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Marc Chagall
  • Les Amoureux dans le ciel rouge
  • Signed Chagall (lower left)
  • Oil, tempera and colored ink on canvas


Estate of the artist, Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Klabal Gallery, Connecticut

Acquired from the above in May 1997 

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1978, Chagall’s Les Amoureux dans le ciel rouge is a quintessential example of Chagall's mastery in assembling an array of folkloric images in a dense and colorful composition. This work contains several of the most crucial elements in the artist's pictorial iconography: symbols of his agrarian roots and domesticity and a landscape evoking both the villages of his childhood home in Russia and the Mediterranean coastal towns in the south of France. Each figure is rendered through a matrix of intense colors and spatial experimentation that epitomizes Chagall's strongest work, reflecting his own very personal delight in the act of painting.

The journalist Alexander Liberman, who visited Chagall in Vence in the late 1950's, eloquently described the intricacy of Chagall's mature 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) 1995, p. 337). 

The central figures floating about the townscape of Les Amoureux dans le ciel rouge are a pair of lovers - a reference to the love of Chagall's youth, Bella. Love and marriage were an important part of Chagall's life, as well as a recurring theme in his painting. His first great love Bella Rosenfeld was also from the artist's native Vitebsk, and remained a powerful symbol of his homeland, while his second wife, Vava Brodsky, was always associated for Chagall with France, where he lived at the time and where the two met. These highly personal and romantic symbols of his life both in Russia and in France are harmoniously combined in Les Amoureux dans le ciel rouge.