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A bright mix of fantasy, nostalgia, and religious imagery, the paintings and prints of Marc Chagall were intended as odes to love. Despite an impoverished upbringing in Russia, Chagall infused his canvases with happy, optimistic references to his childhood, depicted in a child-like style with delicate lines and bright colors. Meanwhile, he tapped into several major styles, including Cubism, Fauvism, and Surrealism. Known for his dreamlike imagery, Chagall populated his work with lovers, musicians, animals, and workmen, and a fiddler also appears frequently, often hovering within a scene. Chagall began printmaking in 1922 when the director of the Cassirer Gallery offered to publish his autobiography illustrated with etchings. The book was never published, but Chagall created a suite of 20 dry-point etchings and became enamored with the process. He felt that printmaking suited for his narrative flair. After the famous dealer and editor Ambroise Vollard brought him back to Paris on commission, Chagall began to paint the countryside landscapes and floral bouquets accompanied by couples, musicians, and animals. He left for the United States during World War II, but returned permanently to France following his 1946 retrospective exhibition at the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris. He remarried to Vava, traveled to Greece, and fell in love with the country and the story of Daphnis and Chloe, the subject of another series of drawings and gouaches that formed the basis for the 42 color lithographs. In 1962, he The Circus suite, a project conceived by Ambroise Vollard. Chagall’s circus imagery is pure delight. Yet for the artist the circus was a somewhat melancholy visual metaphor for life. Chagall was 63 years old — already a famous artist — when he went to Mourlot in 1950 to study the technique of color lithography with Charles Sorlier. Yet, he worked hard to master the nuances of the medium. He created most of his prints late in his career, giving his lithographs the advantage of drawing on a rich and personal iconography developed over a lifetime.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) The Holy Family

Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Numbered in pencil lower left, "27/50" Image: 26 x 20 in. Sheet: 32 1/2 x 26 in. From the edition of 50 1970

With its striking and explosively colorful central tree, The Holy Family is one of Chagall’s finest works of this period. The brilliant tree dominates the work and protects the holy family, as angels hover above. The work evokes a peaceful and whimsical charm. The reds and oranges mix beautifully with subtle tones of pinks, yellows, and blues, providing an essence of depth, richness, and profound sensibilities found only within the stroke of Chagall’s hand.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) The Artist's Wife

Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Numbered in pencil lower left, "16/50" Image: 26 x 20 in. Sheet: 29 3/4 x 23 in. From the edition of 50 1971

Chagall was a dedicated family man. Although he had no children, he was devoted to his wives — Bella Rosenfeld, his first love and wife, and Valentina Brodsky, his last wife — and immortalized them in his art. In this work, Valentina looks on lovingly at the artwork her partner Chagall is creating, supporting him with one of her hands around his side. The easel is in one hand, the brush in the other, limiting any attempt at physical intimacy. On the canvas is a stunning bouquet reflecting the colors that his wife is wearing, symbolizing her influence on his creativity. It’s a truly intimate moment with the viewer.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Cirque au Clown Jaune

Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Marked "H.C." in pencil lower left Image: 26 1/2 x 20 1/2 in. Sheet: 30 1/4 x 23 in. An artist proof aside from the numbered edition of 150 1967

Chagall devoted a series of printed graphics to the subject of the circus, an idea that stemmed from the publisher and art dealer Ambroise Vollard, a passionate circus-goer who often took the artist to watch in his box in the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. As a child in Russia, travelling acrobats fascinated Chagall at village fairs. With Vollard in Paris, Chagall would sit in the audience at the circus and sketch the chaotic and colorful atmosphere. Circus performers, with their outlandish costumes and garish make-up, were ideal characters for Chagall's dream-like compositions. Chagall prepared gouaches for his circus series in the late 1920s. After Vollard died in 1939, Chagall ceased the project, although the motif frequently appeared in his paintings and printed graphics. The publisher TÊriade encouraged Chagall to resume the circus series in 1962.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) The Artist's Family

Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Numbered in pencil lower left, "26/50" Image: 22 x 16 in. Sheet: 29 1/2 x 20 3/8 in. From the edition of 50 1972

The Artist's Family is an intricately detailed work in which a man and woman occupy a large portion of the image. The wife, Valentina Brodsky, looks toward her husband, Chagall, while he stares directly outward at the viewer. On close inspection, Chagall's classic symbols — a horse, rooster, flowers, Paris — seem to fly around the artist as if in his head, ready to be drawn onto paper. Even the couple is copied into another form right behind Chagall in the same embrace. A house appears in the lower right of the image. Chagall didn't have children, but in this portrait he seems quite fulfilled by his wife and core love:

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

One plate from: Sur la Terre des Dieux Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Numbered in pencil lower left, "25/75" Image: 17 1/2 x 14 in. Sheet: 25 3/8 x 19 1/2 in. From the edition of 75 1967

This dreamlike print exemplifies the artist’s distinctive and deeply personal artistic vision. Executed in iridescent, delicate colors, One plate from: Sur la Terre des Dieux features three figures, including one rendered in red to resemble a dancing devil and two nude females. One of the female figures holds a selection of fruit. Set against a bright blue, yellow and green background, the action exudes a poetic harmony. The gentle glow of light lends a pictorial cohesion and compositional unity while evoking the fantastical, imaginary context.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985) Couple de Paysans

Original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Notated in pencil "ĂŠpreuve d'artiste" and numbered "XXIII/XXV" lower left. Image: 25 1/2 x 19 1/2 in. Sheet: 30 1/4 x 23 3/4 in. An artist proof aside from the edition of 50 1967

Couple de Paysans, as its title suggests, depicts a peasant couple, the woman holding a child and the man carrying packages. Chagall unifies the components of the image through the delicate use of color and the tender, romantic mood. Chagall renders the figures in black, using brilliant spot color — green, blue, orange, purple, red, and brown — to punctuate faces. The couple appears content as they stroll toward the viewer, as other figures emerging from a misty blue haze, while an airborne angel flies into the scene.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Homage to Elsa Triolet

original color lithograph Signed in pencil lower right, "Marc Chagall" Numbered in pencil lower left, "19/20" Image: 17 x 14 in. Sheet: 25 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. From the edition of 20 1972

Chagall depicted the French writer and muse Elsa Triolet in profile, wearing a necklace and holding a book open to an image of a bouquet of flowers. A bird rests atop her head with its wings spread and beak ajar, as if it’s chirping. Triolet has a content look on her face, as a half moon and hints of the village below.

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Marc Chagall - Prints  

Marc Chagall - Prints