162
162

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK

Marc Chagall
L'ANE AU VIOLONCELLE OU CIRQUE AU SOLEIL OU VARIANTE DU "CIRQUE SUR FOND NOIR" - RECTO ESQUISSE NON RETENUE POUR LA COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE - VERSO
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162

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK

Marc Chagall
L'ANE AU VIOLONCELLE OU CIRQUE AU SOLEIL OU VARIANTE DU "CIRQUE SUR FOND NOIR" - RECTO ESQUISSE NON RETENUE POUR LA COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE - VERSO
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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Marc Chagall
1887 - 1985
L'ANE AU VIOLONCELLE OU CIRQUE AU SOLEIL OU VARIANTE DU "CIRQUE SUR FOND NOIR" - RECTO ESQUISSE NON RETENUE POUR LA COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE - VERSO
signed Chagall Marc (lower right); titled on the verso
gouache, tempera, pastel, brush and ink and pencil on paper - recto
gouache on paper - verso
49.5 by 64.7cm., 19 1/2 by 25 1/2 in.
Executed in 1969. - recto
Executed in 1958. - verso
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Chagall.

Provenance

Wally Findlay Galleries, New York
Private Collection, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 1978)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Ever since his childhood, when Marc Chagall witnessed the acrobats in the streets of the Russian town of Vitebsk, the artist was fascinated by the circus and its theatrical performance. When he moved to Paris in the 1920s, he frequented the Cirque d’hiver with art dealer Ambroise Vollard, a circus enthusiast who had his own private loge. With a sustained exuberance and energy, Chagall went on to depict jugglers and acrobats, circuses and clowns throughout his career; brilliantly and brightly invading the regular pace of everyday life, they are a vivid metaphor for the life he had decided to lead.

The present work is a cacophony of colour, filled with Chagall’s most emblematic characters, each contending for the attention of the viewer. While a goat plays a cello, a fish leaps upwards, it's curved shape contorted in mid-air; an over-sized red and orange cockerel makes its way onto the stage, overshadowing a miniature bird in the corner, all the while trapeze artists defy gravity, gymnasts handstand and dancers twirl. Audience members are softly denoted in the background as mute observers. By contrast, the vibrancy of the circus floor is rendered in light brushstrokes and a bold palette that sees hues of red, green, blue and yellow fluently combine.

For Chagall, the circus was the captivating conduit between the tangible world that encircled him and the hyper-reality of his pictorial world.  The breath-taking colours, style and energy of the circus compelled and inspired him. He observed: ‘These clowns, bareback riders and acrobats have made themselves at home in my visions. Why? Why am I so touched by their make-up and their grimaces? With them I can move toward new horizons. Lured by their colours and make-up, I dream of painting new psychic distortions’ (quoted in Jacob-Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall: A Retrospective, 1995, p. 196). On the verso of the present work is a sketch for one of Chagall's largest and most important works, La Commedia dell Arte, from 1958. 

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