Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale


Marc Chagall
1887 - 1985
stamped Marc Chagall (lower left)
oil and tempera on board
22 by 16cm., 8 5/8 by 6 3/8 in.
Painted circa 1972.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.


Estate of the Artist
Private Collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1972, Clown et écuyère au cirque bleu portrays a lively circus scene, a recurrent motif in Marc Chagall’s œuvre and one that dates back to the artist’s first steps into what would become an extraordinary and prolific career. The painting, an explosion of colour and movement, is rendered in Chagall’s iconic shades of blue. Its palette evokes a cheerful vivacity that envelops the viewer despite the painting’s intimate scale. A timeless theme in the artist’s personal visual language, the circus brings to life some of Chagall’s fondest childhood memories, including the wonder experienced upon seeing acrobats flooding the streets of his Belarusian hometown. Chagall’s fascination with this subject continued during his years in Paris, when he attended live performances and attempted to capture the spectacle in sketches and drawings.

Clown et écuyère au cirque bleu embodies both the excitement and perceived pandemonium of the circus in its densely animated composition dominated by rich hues and soft, curved lines. The scene is lit by a silvery light reminiscent more of the delicate tones of moonlight than the artificial glare of theatre lights, further contributing to the dreamy, ethereal atmosphere. Depicted in the foreground are the protagonists of this joyous display, a horseback rider in a pink dress and a clown holding a flower bouquet – a recurrent symbol of love in Chagall’s œuvre. Arranged in a rhythmic pattern of arches behind them, the background consists of a multitude of spectators conveyed with loose, quick brushstrokes that intensify the scene’s boisterous dynamism. The result is further amplified by the bird’s-eye view and the artist’s choice of melding his signature blue pigment with hints of bright green and the fiery tones of the clown’s flamboyant costume.

Clown et écuyère au cirque bleu exemplifies Chagall’s inclination towards the fantastical, veering away from realism into a dreamlike and expressive territory. Chagall enlivens and transforms the dullness of everyday life, leaving the viewer with a lasting sense of delight.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale