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Lot 0894
Marc Chagall
(Russian/French, 1887-1985)

"Le Cheval Rouge: Fin de Journee", 1945

oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right, together with a letter of authenticity issued by the Comite Marc Chagall.
21-1/2" x 26-1/2", framed 30-1/4" x 35"

Provenance: Collection of Mrs. Tekla Bond, New York, New York; Galerie Nichido, Paris, France; Christie's, New York, November 6, 2007, lot 83.

This work was authenticated in 1990 by the Comite Marc Chagall, and a duplicate certificate was reissued in 2007 through Christie's.

Exhibited: "Hommage a Marc Chagall", Grand Palais, Paris, December 1969-March 1970.

Literature: Franz Meyer, Marc Chagall, Life and Work (New York, 1963), p. 758, no. 746 (illustrated); Chagall, Marc and Jean Leymaire et al. Hommage a Marc Chagall, Grand Palais, Decembre 1969-Mars 1970 (exhibition catalogue). Paris: Ministere d'Etat Affaires Culturelles, 1969, no. 98 (illustrated).

Notes: "For me life divides itself into two parts--Life and death--… Without love an art is not art, and a life is not life. Without love we see all the chaos into which art and life periodically descend, in which I fear they find themselves at this moment. The great crisis of art and of life is a crisis of Love."
-- Marc Chagall

"Le Cheval Rouge: Fin de Journee" with its mesmerizing colors and figures is the end of an epic journey that uprooted, displaced and took so many lives. Created the year World War II ended, and just months after the artist's wife, Bella, died an emigre in a foreign land from a wartime shortage of medicine, it is an elegy to life and to his wife, captured through three of the most recurring themes painted by the artist: lovers, Jewish folklore, and the crowded rooftops of his childhood village in Vitebsk, Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), where Chagall met his young bride. Bella was Chagall's endless muse and ultimate raison d'etre as an artist. She represented a purity of love that spilled forth in his paintings, defying gravity and perspective, causing figures to soar through the skies and objects to dance in tandem in a kaleidoscope of colors and forms. As Chagall stated in his autobiography My Life: "All I had to do was open my window and in streamed the blueness of the sky, love and flowers with her [Bella]. ….she has long been haunting my paintings, the great central image of my art."

Indeed Bella is the wellspring of this painting around which all else centers in a dueling play that memorializes the past in vignette-like psalms that sing of life. Bella is the communion of giving; from her bosom bloom the greenery of grain and the feed tin beneath which another hand receives the alms. Chagall is her Janus-face inseparably attached to her head, and his/her head is a consecrated rooftop of Vitebsk. While Bella's feet are effaced, she is a veritable geist in gradients of blue - her skirt transformed into a bird about to embark on a homebound flight to the Belarusian village below. The Chada Gadya - the little playful goat of Jewish folklore and music that is sung at the end of Passover is a metaphor of Chagall rendered in red, and the cockerel - the kapparot (ritual of atonement) and a marker of time and celestial manifestations in Jewish mysticism is both the golden glow requiem of the setting sun and the cockcrow of tomorrow.

References: Chagall, Marc. My Life. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 1965; Wullschlager, Jackie. Chagall: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 2008; Chagall, Marc. Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, edited Benjamin Harshav. Stanford University Press, 2003.


In overall very good condition. There are two small inpainted "touch-ups" that fluoresce under UV light in the upper left center background (between the chicken and the woman's blue hair).

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Marc Chagall (Russian/French, 1887-1985)

Estimate $2,000,000 - $4,000,000
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