Galerie Maeght, Zurich
Max Kohler, Zurich
Galerie Forum Fine Art, Zurich (acquired by 1980)
Private Collection, Switzerland (Sold: Sotheby’s, New York, 9th May 1995, lot 108)
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner
Colour was always central to Chagall’s art, but it took on a new significance in the years following the Second World War, when he returned to France and settled in Saint-Paul-de-Vence on the Mediterranean coast. Like many artists before him, he was captivated by the unique intensity of light and colour that he found there; as Franz Meyer writes, ‘The light, the vegetation, the rhythm of life all contributed to the rise of a more relaxed, airy, sensuous style in which the magic of colour dominates more and more with the passing years. At Vence he witnessed the daily miracle of growth and blossoming in the mild, strong all-pervading light - an experience in which earth and matter had their place’ (F. Meyer, Marc Chagall
, London, 1964, p. 519). Chagall acknowledged this, describing his reinvigorated understanding in a lecture delivered in 1958: ‘Upon my return to France, at the end of the war, I had the vision of glowing colours, not decorative and screaming ones, and I rediscovered Claude Monet, with his natural source of colours. Now I feel the presence of a colour which is the colour of love’ (quoted in J. Baal-Teshuva (ed.), Chagall. A Retrospective
, Fairfield, 1995, p. 181).
In Le bouquet au fond rouge Chagall rejoices in this new sense of colour, suffusing the scene with a warm red that perfectly complements the vibrant tones of the flowers that fill the canvas. Flowers had been a recurring motif since the 1920s and were often associated with his adopted home country of France; in the present work Chagall combines them with the low roofed houses that allude to his Russian hometown of Vitebsk, amalgamating these dual influences. The pair of lovers adds to the warmth of the scene creating a beguiling dreamscape that reflects the peace and contentment that Chagall experienced during the later decades of his life.