Private Collection, London (sold: Sotheby's, London, 30th March 1977, lot 126)
Private Collection, Tokyo (purchased at the above sale)
Private Collection, U.S.A. (sold: Sotheby's, New York, 3rd May 2011, lot 6)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
This beautifully worked rendering of Paris' best known landmark is among the rare mixed-media compositions that Chagall completed upon his arrival to Paris in 1910. Executed with exacting attention to the details of Gustave Eiffel's iconic construction and using the blue, white and red palette of the tricolore, the composition captures Chagall's initial awe and excitement upon moving to the city of lights. On the second day after his arrival in Paris, Chagall visited the Salon des Indépendants. This was his first encounter with the works of the Fauves and the Cubists, and the experience ignited his curiosity about the avant-garde art scene in the city. Chagall soon moved into lodgings in the legendary block of studios known as La Ruche in Montparnasse, a building renowned for its cosmopolitan and Bohemian atmosphere. Chagall's room was next to the one occupied by Modigliani, and the poets Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars were frequent visitors to the house. It was in this atmosphere that Chagall produced La Tour Eiffel, capturing in it some of the elation he must have felt at this new adventure.
France, and particularly the city of Paris would become an important source of inspiration for the artist and the motif of the Eiffel Tower was one that recurred throughout his career. As he recalled almost half a century later: 'I arrived in Paris as though driven by fate. Words coming from my heart flowed to my mouth. They almost choked me. I kept stammering. The words crowded outward, anxious to be illuminated by this Paris light, to adorn themselves with it. I arrived with the thoughts, the dreams, that one can only have at the age of twenty' (quoted in Jacob Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall: A Retrospective, New York, 1995, p. 74).
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