Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000
In Le peintre à la fête this self-reflective mood encompasses the many and varied influences on the artist’s work. Dominating the top of the composition, we see the familiar landscape of Chagall’s native Vitebsk; the life he experienced in this rural region was the subject of his earliest forays into artistic expression and remained a mainstay of his personal symbolism. Performances of music, dance and the circus played an important role in Chagall’s universe and provided an infinite source of inspiration for his painting. The present composition evokes street entertainment that was a large part of his early life in rural Russia; the joyous atmosphere and the sense of celebration inherent to this subject certainly appealed to the artist’s colourful, life-affirming vision.
Looming large at the centre of the composition, the image of the artist – brush in one hand and palette in the other – is surrounded by a joyful and colourful array of characters including a bride and groom, musicians, circus performers and cheering spectators. Gesturing with his brush, the larger-than-life central figure of the artist also assumes the role of a conductor, setting the rhythm to which the figures around him play and dance. Areas of bright pigment lead the viewer’s eye from one part of the canvas to another, highlighting various figures that animate the canvas and generate a palpable sense of energy and movement.
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