The two great loves of Marc Chagall’s life were undoubtedly Bella, his first wife with whom he passionately fell in love upon their first meeting in 1909, and Paris, his adopted city where he left an enduring legacy on the landscape of Modern art. Completed in 1967, more than two decades after his beloved Bella’s death and at a time when Chagall enjoyed international fame as a painter, Paysage de Paris en bleu is replete with symbols that pay homage to both the lover and the city through the artist’s iconic dreamscape style. Its dominant blue hues imbue the work with an overwhelming sense of yearning, the lovers depicted twice in the composition alongside the Eiffel Tower and other recognizable Parisian landmarks, a window, a bouquet of flowers and a floating ram and cock. In contrast to Chagall’s more boldly colored and exuberant works from this period, one cannot help but feel the artist’s nostalgia for a bygone era of his life.
Chagall first arrived in France in the summer of 1910 at the age of 23. Within his first two days in Paris, he visited the Salon des Indépendants and there he saw the work of a panoply of contemporary artists, including the Fauves and the Cubists. Paintings by Derain, Léger, Matisse and Picasso hung alongside the vibrant Orphist canvases of Robert Delaunay, who was to become the mentor of Paul Klee, August Macke and Chagall himself. Very soon he had moved into lodgings in the legendary block of studios known as La Rûche on the rue Vaugirard in Montparnasse, a building famed for its lively bohemian atmosphere and its cosmopolitan array of inhabitants. Chagall lodged in the room next to Modigliani; Soutine also lived in the building during this time. The poets Apollinaire, Blaise Cendrars and Canudo frequently visited. In this milieu of spontaneity and rich cultural exchange, Chagall began his first period of painting in Paris and would return for good after World War I.
Acquired from Perls Galleries shortly after its execution in the late 1960s, this work has not been seen on the market nearly half a century.