Lot 227
  • 227

Marc Chagall

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • Marc Chagall
  • Les Amoureux aux trois bouquets
  • Signed Marc Chagall (lower right); signed Marc Chagall and dated 1980 (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 21 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 54 by 73 cm


Acquired by the present owner circa 1991


The work is in excellent condition. The canvas is unlined. The surface is richly textured and the impasto is well preserved. Under Uv light, certain original pigments fluoresce; no inpainting is apparent.
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.

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1980, Chagall’s Les Amoureux aux trois bouquets 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, bouquets of flowers and landscapes evoking the villages of his childhood home in Belarus. As of the early 1920s, shortly after Chagall’s marriage to his first wife Bella in 1915, bouquets of flowers become a symbol of romantic love in Chagall’s work, and he continued to use the motif of flowers constantly throughout his career. Each figure in the present work 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 1950s, 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" (Alexander Liberman, "The Artist in His Studio" in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, ed., Chagall: A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 337).

The centrality and abundance of the brightly blossoming flowers in Les Amoureux aux trois bouquets evoke a sense of abundance and plenty. At the time of this work’s creation Chagall was living in the hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a small town on the French Riviera that became a thriving artistic center after World War II. Chagall described his life in Vence as “a bouquet of roses” (quoted in Sidney Alexander, Marc Chagall: A Biography, New York, 1978, p. 492). The duality between lovers and flowers took on a central role in his work around 1924, when Chagall discovered the beauty of the landscape in the Seine valley, which he explored with his friends Robert and Sonia Delaunay on the long walks they took together, not to mention the numerous flowers in the South of France he saw on his visit to the region that year. André Breton discussed the ephemeral nature of Chagall’s painting stating: “No work was ever so resolutely magical: its splendid prismatic colors sweep away and transfigure the torment of today and at the same time preserve the age old spirit of ingenuity in expressing everything which proclaims the pleasure principle: flowers an expression of love” (quoted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva, ibid., p. 153).

The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.